Good morning, Eagles fans. This is a Thursday edition of Early Birds, and it comes to you from Orange County, Calif., where the Eagles are stationed this week preparing for the Los Angeles Rams. The Eagles practiced Wednesday at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, where noted Eagles fan Mike Trout has become baseball's best player. The Eagles will be back there Thursday. Pay attention to the health status of tight end Zach Ertz, who still has not cleared the concussion protocol.
The Eagles are now three days into their Orange County experience, and they completed their first practice at Angel Stadium. The baseball diamond, with the outfield fence in the distance, made for a good backdrop. But a big emphasis from Doug Pederson has been to avoid the spectacle and try to make it comparable to a week at the NovaCare Complex. That's hard to do when they're taking buses to practice and are meeting in hotel conference rooms, but the players and coaches have acclimated to the new environment. "I'll tell you, it's been pretty seamless," Pederson said. "I've got to credit our IT staff, our video department, our training and medical staff, our equipment staff, and everybody that even came out to set the hotel up and set up [Angel Stadium]. … Gracious for the Angels for allowing us to practice there, and our grounds crew have done an amazing job over there when you see it today, with putting some sod down in the infield and just a great job. … It feels like NovaCare."
Pederson wants practices to improve after they slipped last week. He doesn't want to make too big of a deal about it to the point that it becomes a burden on the players, but he has a close eye on how crisp they're practicing to see whether they can eliminate some of the self-inflicted mistakes. Pederson thinks by Friday morning, he'll know how the week is going. "You can tell just by the way the day goes, the way the guys treat the day," Pederson said. "There's going to be mistakes made. It's not about the effort and all that. … There's going to be assignment errors. There's going to be — because we are putting in new things. That's where we correct it in the meetings and then ultimately, it's on the players to make sure they are studying and staying up on it. These next couple days, I would feel on Friday, if you ask me again, which I'm sure you will, [I'll] have a better answer for you."
In Wednesday's Early Birds, I wrote about the hits Carson Wentz has taken and the toughness Frank Reich believes he's exhibited. On Wednesday, I asked Wentz how he felt after the hits he took in the Seahawks game — expecting full well that he'll say he feels great and there's no problem. "I feel fine, I feel great," Wentz said with a smile. "Anytime you drop back as much as we did in that game, especially late in that game, their D-line just kind of pins their ears back and we're trying to throw the ball down the field, so naturally you're going to hang in there and take some shots here and there. You don't worry about those things. I'm fortunate I feel as good as I do."
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— Zach Berman
What you need to know about the Eagles
Jared Goff went No. 1 in the draft and Carson Wentz went No. 2, but Paul Domowitch wrote they both ended up where they belonged.
Alshon Jeffery's contract extension provides stability to a position for Wentz that badly needed an upgrade a few months ago.
Will Jim Schwartz be a head coach again? Jeff McLane examines.
Zach Ertz remains in the concussion protocol.
Marcus Hayes tells you why Lane Johnson should make the Pro Bowl.
How do the Eagles' and Rams' touchdowns compare? Ed Barkowitz has the answer.
If you missed Wednesday's Early Birds, find out what Frank Reich thinks about Wentz's toughness.
From the mailbag
This is a good question, because my answer has changed during the course of the season. Before the season, I would have said a winning record and potentially making the playoffs. I thought they needed to show improvement from last year. But a 10-1 start changed the conversation. Now, I'd consider a successful season winning one playoff game. They're going to have a home playoff game, whether it comes on the first weekend or second weekend. It's fair to expect them to win one home playoff game. It might be too much to expect them to win the NFC championship, although it's certainly possible. I suppose, considering my preseason expectations, simply reaching the playoffs is successful. But the benchmark changed with their early success. I wouldn't consider an early exit in the playoffs a disappointment. Just not a success. The Eagles have an opportunity this year, and as the saying goes, opportunity is not a lengthy visitor.