Davis: All Eagles cornerbacks will play a lot
Bradley Fletcher doesn't know whether he will start, but the Giants' scheme means there will be plenty of work for the corners.
BRADLEY FLETCHER, who still looked haunted yesterday, said he didn't know whether he will start in Sunday's meaningless season finale against the New York Giants.
Practice was "pretty much the same," said the Eagles' much-vilified cornerback, who added: "I'll know by the end of the week."
That was what defensive coordinator Bill Davis had told reporters earlier yesterday, that he would decide by the end of the week whether to start Fletcher for the 16th time this season, or go with either Nolan Carroll or Brandon Boykin. Carroll eventually replaced Fletcher after DeSean Jackson beat Fletcher for 55 yards late in the third quarter of the Redskins' 27-24 victory on Saturday.
"Every game's an opportunity," Fletcher said, when asked if he wanted to start this week. "If I'm out there, I'll have another opportunity."
Davis indicated that since the Giants play a lot of three-wide-receiver sets, the Eagles will need Boykin in his nickel role, so though he theoretically could take Fletcher's place, Carroll would seem a more likely alternative.
"All the corners that are up will be playing a lot," Davis said.
Davis said on the crucial deep ball to Jackson, his second long catch of the game, "Fletch lost it at the line of scrimmage. Really, that's where he has had the most struggles the last couple of weeks, at the line, and he lost the battle at the line, and they had a good throw and catch outside."
Davis said Fletcher's safety help made the correct decision to help an outside linebacker in coverage.
He talked again about Fletcher and confidence.
"If you just go back to our Giants game from a year ago where they threw maybe 10 verticals on us, I think about five or six went to Fletch, and he made unbelievable plays at the ball on vertical routes. I just need to get him back to that place," Davis said. "That's what we were trying to do over the last couple weeks. You just can't yank and jerk these guys . . . Sometimes maybe you wait too long, maybe you don't do it quick enough, maybe you do it too quick, and it's a fine line, and you've got to make that call. That's what we as a group did, and hopefully we can get Fletch back around to where he's playing the ball that he has played for us."
Carroll said he doesn't know if he will start. "Nothing's changed" in practice, he said.
Carroll has played almost exclusively as a quasi-linebacker in dime coverage this season. He said he practices enough on the outside that playing there this week wouldn't be a problem. "I still have the muscle memory for it," he said.
Boykin, meanwhile, said tweets from his brother and personal manager Al Boykin, indicating frustration with Brandon's role, "got nothing to do with me . . . He's entitled to his own opinions, like every other fan on Twitter . . . Just like every other family member, they want their family member to get what they want."
Boykin said he is happy to be an Eagle.
Trent Cole, who underwent surgery for a broken hand last week and sat out the Washington game, wouldn't say whether he practiced yesterday or will play this week. "Check back with me later in the week," he said. "I'm only going to do what my body's going to allow me to do."
Cole, an Eagle for each of his 10 NFL seasons, was asked if he expects to be here next season. If he is, it almost certainly won't be at his current deal's projected $11.625 million cap number. This could be the final Eagles game for the player whose 85 1/2 sacks rank him second to Reggie White on the franchise's all-time list.
"I don't know," Cole said. "I certainly want to be here. It's a chance for me to be one of the first in Eagles history to retire [having played for] just one team. It's a big accomplishment. But things change every year . . . they might rather keep me, and they might not rather keep me . . . I love Philly. This is my home, when I'm done with football . . . I like what I've got going on here."
Would he be open to restructuring his deal to stay?
"That's something I can't comment about," he said.
Jeremy Maclin, a pending free agent, said he wants to remain an Eagle and thinks a deal will be worked out. The team can franchise Maclin if nothing is agreed to before the start of free agency. Maclin wouldn't say how he would feel about that, only that he wouldn't have much choice, if that happened . . . Bill Davis said first-round rookie Marcus Smith didn't get the expected snaps at outside linebacker last week behind Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin because "there's separation in talent. Now, the more it's clustered, the more we play everybody. The more there's separation, the less we make rotations."