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Crowd noise, Russell Wilson in focus as Eagles prepare for Seahawks | Early Birds

The Eagles begin practicing for the Seahawks on Wednesday. They must be ready for the crowd in Seattle and Russell Wilson.

Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, left, and Eagles’ Carson Wentz, right, embrace after the game. Philadelphia Eagles lose 26-15 to the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle, WA on November 20, 2016. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, left, and Eagles’ Carson Wentz, right, embrace after the game. Philadelphia Eagles lose 26-15 to the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle, WA on November 20, 2016. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff PhotographerRead moreDAVID MAIALETTI

Good morning, Eagles fans. This is a Wednesday edition of Early Birds. The Eagles practice for the first time this week at 12:45 p.m. Doug Pederson has a 10:30 a.m. news conference, and Carson Wentz's weekly news conference is at noon.

  1. Every time the Eagles visit Seattle, there are questions about how the Eagles will deal with the crowd noise at CenturyLink Field. The stadium was built with noise in mind, and the Seahawks have loyal fans. Plus, their teams are usually good. Many of the Eagles, including Wentz, experienced the venue last year. They also played in Kansas City this season. That's why offensive coordinator Frank Reich didn't want to overstate the challenge while acknowledging that the environment in Seattle is among the most difficult in the NFL. "Loud is loud, and once you're using the silent count, you're using a silent count," Reich said. "I think at this time of year, you never take anything for granted. I think we've gotten into a good rhythm. I think we feel comfortable. The real key is on the quarterback and the O-line to be able to continue to mix up; it's sometimes easier to mix a count when you're using your voice, but you have to be just as committed to mixing up the count when you're using silent count." The Eagles will practice with crowd noise blaring over the speakers to prepare. They might also practice indoors, where it's even louder.

  2. Even more challenging than the environment might be the opposing quarterback. Jim Schwartz raved about Russell Wilson, who is also the Seahawks' leading rusher. What's interesting is how the Seahawks have evolved during Wilson's career. Schwartz noted that five years ago, it was the running game and defense that were the keys for the Seahawks. But Wilson has had consecutive 4,000-passing-yard seasons and is on the verge of another. The Eagles often focus on stopping the opposing run game, but Wilson is the biggest part of their run game. The quarterback will be the focus of the defense on Sunday.

  3. There was news in the NFC East on Tuesday. The Giants, who have been eliminated from the playoffs, made a quarterback change. They're sitting Eli Manning, who has started 210 consecutive games. Geno Smith will start Sunday. The Eagles visit the Giants on Dec. 17. Assuming the Giants don't put Manning back in the lineup, it will be the first time the Eagles play against the Giants without Manning as the starter since September 2004. Manning has started 26 regular-season games against the Eagles and two playoff games. He's 10-16 as a starter in the regular season and 0-2 in the playoffs. He has 50 touchdowns and 34 interceptions against the Eagles (including the playoffs).

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— Zach Berman

What you need to know about the Eagles

  1. Russell Wilson poses perhaps the toughest challenge yet for the Eagles.

  2. One year after losing to the Seahawks, the Eagles are better positioned to visit Seattle, Les Bowen writes.

  3. The Eagles don't just spread the ball on offense — they also diversify their weapons on defenseBob Brookover writes.

  4. Jeff McLane broke down the film to show you what Brandon Graham is doing well this year.

  5. Want to see all the Eagles' celebrations in one place? Jonathan Tannenwald compiled them for you.

  6. The Eagles-Rams game on Dec. 10 will be played as scheduled at 4:25 p.m., Rob Tornoe reports.

  7. You asked, I answered in the weekly chat on

  8. If you missed Tuesday's Early Birds, it had an item about what the Eagles thought about Jason Peters attending last Sunday's game.

From the mailbag

How long (or how little) have the Eagles been trailing in games this
— year?

Good question, Derek. I was curious, too, so I looked it up. After spending too much time going through all the box scores, I believe the Eagles have only trailed for 69 minutes, 14 seconds. That's impressive, considering they've played 660 minutes. That means the Eagles have only played from behind for about 10 percent of the season.

Here are all the times they've had a deficit this season, from my unofficial compilation:

  1. Week 1 at Washington: The Eagles trailed, 14-13, for 1:13 in the second quarter.

  2. Week 2 at Kansas City: The Eagles trailed, 3-0, for 6:54 in the first quarter; they trailed, 6-3, for 11:09 from the end of the second quarter into the third quarter; they trailed, 13-10, for 4:23 of the third quarter into the fourth quarter; and the final 6:25 of the game.

  3. Week 3 vs. New York Giants:  The Eagles trailed, 21-14, for 1:32 in the fourth quarter; they trailed, 24-21, for 2:17 in the fourth quarter.

  4. Week 4 at Los Angeles Chargers: No deficit.

  5. Week 5 vs. Arizona: No deficit.

  6. Week 6 at Carolina: The Eagles trailed, 10-3, for 8:02 in the second quarter.

  7. Week 7 vs. Washington: The Eagles trailed, 3-0, for 13:03 in the first and second quarters; they trailed, 10-3, for 5:55 in the second quarter.

  8. Week 8 vs. San Francisco: No deficit.

  9. Week 9 vs. Denver: The Eagles trailed, 3-0, for 4:01 in the first quarter.

  10. Week 10: Bye week.

  11. Week 11 at Dallas: The Eagles trailed, 3-0, for 4:20 in the first quarter.

  12. Week 12 vs. Chicago: No deficit.