Carson Wentz's toughness, the defense's penalties, and ice cream | Early Birds
Frank Reich on Carson Wentz: "It's a physical sport, and just because he plays quarterback, that doesn't mean he's not a part of that."
Good morning, Eagles fans. This is a Wednesday edition of Early Birds, and it comes to you from Orange County, Calif., where the Eagles are stationed this week. The Eagles practice Wednesday afternoon at Angel Stadium of Anaheim for the first time leading up to Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams. Coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Carson Wentz will hold news conferences before practice.
Did you see Wentz wince after some of the hits from Seattle on Sunday? When Pederson was asked about it on Monday, he said Wentz felt fine but to ask offensive coordinator Frank Reich how Wentz felt during the game because Reich and Wentz talk between each drive. Reich said he's always monitoring the hits Wentz takes and has conversations with the quarterback about them. "But this isn't a, 'Hey, buddy, how you feeling?' This is a, 'You good?' 'Yeah, I'm good.' 'Okay, then we're good,' " Reich said. "He's a tough guy, and this game is for tough players. … Sometimes as a player, and I think Carson falls into this realm, you thrive in that. … It doesn't feel good, but you're in the game. This is what football is. It's a physical sport, and just because he plays quarterback, that doesn't mean he's not a part of that. We all know that he's a little bit wired like that, but I still think he's done an excellent job of taking care of himself. I don't think he's taken a bunch of unnecessary hits, except for the illegal ones." Wentz has not missed time because of injury all season.
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz took pride earlier this year in the defense's discipline, noting, unprompted during a news conference, their lack of penalties. The penalties have increased in recent games, and Schwartz knows the Eagles need to cut them out against good teams. It's a message that the players have received. "It certainly cost us in this game," Schwartz said. "It's a lesson that we certainly need to carry going forward. When we play clean football … and don't give teams second opportunities and third opportunities in a drive, we're a pretty good third-down team. We can get drives stopped. When you give good offenses second chances, good things don't happen." The Eagles were charged with four defensive penalties in both of the last two games. In the previous four games, the defense combined for only nine penalties.
With the Eagles in Southern California, Brandon Graham flew his family out to spend time with him this week. They went to the Museum of Ice Cream in Los Angeles when the team was off on Monday. "They give you ice cream in every room," Graham said. "It was a pretty cool museum." Graham enjoyed the gummy bears.
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From the mailbag
I'm not sure I'd put Brandon Graham first on that list, considering he's not a free agent. The player they need to lock up is Nigel Bradham. He's a great fit in the defense and plays a position without much down-the-road certainty. He'll be an unrestricted free agent after the season. Jordan Hicks is recovering from a major injury and Mychal Kendricks' cap number continues to go up the next two seasons. The Eagles don't have young players who project as a replacement for Bradham. I don't think Bradham will come cheap, but I'd try to find the right price. As for a contract extension, I'd check the price on Nelson Agholor this offseason, when he's eligible for a new deal.