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Nigel Bradham’s toughness; Duce Staley still calls backfield a committee; the defensive end rotation | Early Birds

Nigel Bradham will keep playing with a broken thumb. Plus, links to all of our coverage, and answers to your questions.

Eagles outside linebacker Nigel Bradham raises his fist after a stop on New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley on Sunday, November 25, 2018 in Philadelphia. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles outside linebacker Nigel Bradham raises his fist after a stop on New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley on Sunday, November 25, 2018 in Philadelphia. YONG KIM / Staff PhotographerRead moreYONG KIM

Good morning. The Eagles practice today at 1:20 p.m. to begin preparing for Monday's game against Washington. Doug Pederson has a 10:30 a.m. news conference and Carson Wentz is at the podium at 12:05 p.m.

This is the Early Birds newsletter, which will arrive in your inbox Monday through Friday for the rest of the season. I want to know what you think and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @ZBerm.

— Zach Berman

Nigel Bradham’s toughness 

Nigel Bradham has a cast on his left hand after breaking his thumb in three places. Yet he didn't come off the field and he plans to play on Monday. How does he do it?

"Something inside, man, heart," Bradham said. "It was definitely painful. But it was something I had to get through."

He said it's tough to get off blocks and try to tackle. Linebackers "pretty much use [their] hands every play," but he said he needed to overcome that. (Read Paul Domowitch's story for more.)

Bradham takes pride in being available. He has missed only one game since coming to Philadelphia — the meaningless Week 17 game last season.

It was even more of a priority that he was on the field because the Eagles were already missing Jordan Hicks. Bradham replaced Hicks as the signal-caller and he said he was "rusty" in that role. It's something he'll work on this week because Hicks is expected to miss another game with a calf injury. If Bradham missed time, Nate Gerry would take over those duties.

By the way, the broken thumb is going around the linebackers room. Kamu Grugier-Hill broke his thumb earlier this season and kept playing.

Still a committee in the backfield?

The Eagles are going to give Josh Adams more touches going forward — Doug Pederson made that clear — but if you're into labels, running backs coach Duce Staley isn't ready to say the Eagles' philosophy has changed at running back.

"It's still a running back-by-committee," Staley said. "It's all about the hot hand. And Josh has the hot hand, of course."

Other than disagreeing with the label, Staley didn't say anything to suggest the trend of using Adams as a lead running back will stop. Staley lauded Adams' patience while running and the rookie's consistency during the last few weeks. The Eagles still like what Corey Clement offers, especially on third downs, but Adams will get the bulk of carries this season — as long as he remains productive.

Defensive end rotation

Since Derek Barnett's injury, the Eagles have relied on Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett, and Chris Long at defensive end. Josh Sweat has taken a few snaps each week, but he's not an equal part of the rotation.

Graham, Bennett, and Long are all in their 30s and logging more snaps than the Eagles planned entering the season. How are they handling it?

"Like seasoned vets," defensive line coach Chris Wilson said.  "They get it. The cavalry's not coming. We're it. The biggest thing we do is just being honest, knowing where we're at. If we're taking too many snaps in a series, we've got to be able sub guys in and trust the guys that we sub in. And we trust the guys that we're playing right now."

If there's any change, it would be getting Sweat more work. He has received his most work during the last two weeks, but he's still not at the point where he will make it an equal rotation.

"The biggest thing for any young guy is practice," Wilson said. "The more you practice, the better you practice — and he's done a good job — the more the trust factor goes up. He's done that. It's just a week-to-week basis. Some weeks, you get a little more snaps than others, depending on the circumstances."

What you need to know about the Eagles

  1. Alshon Jeffery is "not worried about targets" after his production slowed following his hot start.

  2. Nigel Bradham broke his thumb, but he still intends to play, Paul Domowitch writes.

  3. Zach Ertz is on pace to shatter recordsJeff McLane writes after reviewing the film.

From the mailbag

How about someone like Kliff Kingsbury as a new OC? Groh seems to be underwhelming so far, do we need new blood?

Kliff Kingsbury, the former Texas Tech coach, will be in high demand. Frankly, I don't think the Eagles would be an appealing job because Doug Pederson calls plays. Kingsbury will have his pick of jobs that allow him to call plays. Pederson won't give up those duties — nor should he need to after leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl title. So it might be a fun idea to discuss, but the Eagles job is different than a typical offensive coordinator role.

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