ALEX HENERY was answering a text from a friend yesterday when a reporter approached the Eagles' kicker.
The text? Ndamukong Suh needed a couple of tickets to Sunday's game at Lincoln Financial Field.
Henery, the Birds' 6-1, 177-pound kicker, is a friend and former Nebraska teammate of Suh, the Lions' fearsome, 6-4, 307-pound defensive tackle. They were construction management majors in the engineering department, and had classes together.
"He's a good guy," Henery said. "Those incidents - how I know him, that's not how he really is. I see him when I go back in the offseason. He's a real nice guy. Smart guy."
Suh has been fined more than $200,000 by the NFL in his four pro seasons, for such trifles as stomping on an opponent (Green Bay's Evan Dietrich-Smith), kicking an opponent in the groin (Houston's Matt Schaub) and making a throat-slashing gesture against the Bucs, just last month. A poll of NFL players declared him the league's dirtiest player.
"He's just a real aggressive guy . . . I don't know if there's intent, or if he's just playing hard," Henery said. "In college, he was so much bigger, faster and quicker than everyone. He was always a step ahead. Guys were always struggling to block him. I wouldn't say he was dirty in college."
Henery said he has not bestowed his view of Suh on the Eagles' offensive linemen.
Ducking the draft
Chip Kelly won't be drafting Marcus Mariota next spring, and not just because Nick Foles is playing well at quarterback. Mariota, the Oregon redshirt sophomore, is staying in school.
"I'm happy for him," Kelly said yesterday. "I know he comes from a great family. His dad and mom value education; Marcus is going to stay and get his degree. Marcus is a really special young man, and everybody in the league will have to wait a couple years. But I loved coaching him. He's exactly what you want in a football player, and I know everybody in Eugene's happy. Eugene's a special place. Take it from a guy who had a real tough time leaving there. I think it's a good decision."
Of course, Mariota wasn't able to discuss his decision beforehand with his former coach; that would violate NCAA and NFL rules.
In a conference call with Philadelphia-area reporters yesterday, Lions coach Jim Schwartz was asked about kicker David Akers, who holds most Eagles kicking records. Akers, who turns 39 the day after Sunday's game, is 15-for-20 on field goals this season, and there has been repeated speculation that his job might be in jeopardy.
"It's a little bit like [Nick] Foles having 19 touchdowns and no interceptions. I don't think anybody thinks he's going to continue that through the course of his career," Schwartz said of Akers' struggles. "Missing field goals goes along with field-goal kickers. It's sort of a fact of life that they're going to miss some. But, just like Reggie Bush fumbling, we didn't bench him. We kept feeding him the ball, and he led us to a Thanksgiving Day win.
"He's a veteran player. He's good for our team. He's good for our young punter [Sam Martin]. He brings a lot of positives, and when there's a clutch kick, we'll have confidence to put David out there to make it."
Punter Donnie Jones was named NFC special-teams player of the week for the second week in a row . . . Chip Kelly said wide receiver Jeff Maehl was seeing an independent neurologist yesterday, hoping to get clearance to return from the concussion he suffered Sunday against the Cardinals. Safety Earl Wolff (knee) and linebacker Najee Goode (hamstring) remained sidelined. Defensive lineman Clif Geathers was excused from practice for personal reasons, the Eagles said . . . Kelly said Lions quarterback Matt Stafford has "one of the quickest triggers" in the NFL and doesn't get enough credit . . . Brandon Graham, who had two sacks in 13 snaps Sunday, said: "I don't think I'll ever silence [critics] until I get a couple of Pro Bowls under my belt. Because guys like Earl Thomas and [Jason] Pierre-Paul [taken after Graham in the 2010 draft] have been there before me. I hear that all the time. But it's cool. I'm embracing it. I know if I keep working, one day, I'll be that guy I know I can be."
Daily News staff writer Ed Barkowitz contributed to this report.