THIS IS Jalen Mills in a nutshell, and this is why Jim Schwartz is so damn fond of the kid.

With the Eagles clinging to an uneasy, 7-6 lead over the Falcons last Sunday, Schwartz had a slight problem. OK, not so slight.

One of his starting corners, Nolan Carroll, had just been ordered by a neurologist to take the rest of the day off after suffering a concussion when he collided with teammate Jordan Hicks.

His other starting corner, Leodis McKelvin, was limping around the locker room at halftime on an achy breaky hamstring.

Down the hall in the visitors' locker room was one of the league's best wide receivers, Julio Jones. Jones already had caught six passes for 73 yards in the first half, and Schwartz was trying to figure out a plan for trying to cover him in the second half when Mills came up to him.

"Julio had already had a couple of good catches, and I knew Leodis' hamstring was 80-90 percent and he wasn't himself," the seventh-round rookie said.

"Going into halftime, going over the game plan as far as how we were going to adjust (without Carroll and with a gimpy McKelvin), I just told coach, 'Hey coach, just let me follow 11 (Jones). Whether he goes left or right.' With no hesitation, he said, sure."

Schwartz didn't really have a whole lot of other options and had pretty much already decided to have Mills shadow the three-time Pro Bowler. But he was impressed with the kid's moxie. I mean, what rookie stands up and says, "I'll take the guy nobody else wants."

"From the time he's come here, there hasn't been very many situations that have been too big for him, including this last game," Schwartz said Thursday. "If you had told me in May that we'd take a seventh-round draft pick and be having him flip sides with Julio Jones, some of it had to with Jalen and some of it had to do with where the health of our other corners was."

With McKelvin in and out of the lineup and nickel corner Ron Brooks suffering a season-ending quadriceps injury last month, Schwartz has had to do a fishes-and-loaves thing with the cornerback position.

He has moved versatile Malcolm Jenkins back and forth from safety to the slot and he has relied heavily on Mills, who was the 233rd player taken in the draft.

Mills has played 64 percent of the defensive snaps in the first nine games. He hasn't been perfect. He's gotten beat a few times. But he's been remarkably resilient.

Against the Falcons, he gave up a 28-yard completion to Jones on Atlanta's first offensive play of the second half. But Jones would catch just three more passes for 34 yards the rest of the game.

"I think one of the things that's happened with our cornerback position is we've been very competitive," Schwartz said. "We haven't always played great, but we've played competitive. We've given up some plays, but we've made some plays. And in this league, you're not going to make any plays if you don't contest some things.''

Schwartz acknowledged later that when he was talking about the competitiveness of the corners, he was mainly talking about Mills.

"When we were trying to manage our injury situation at corner at halftime and decided (to put Mills on Jones), there was no hesitation," he said. "There was no, 'Well, I don't know. That guy is really good,' or, 'What coverages are you going to call?' It was, 'I've got him.'

"Like I said, he didn't always make the play. But that's not what this league is about. You can't pitch a shutout to every wide receiver, particularly a guy like that. That is, if not the best, one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, with a hot quarterback (Matt Ryan).

"But he was able to, his competitiveness carried that."

Carroll completed concussion protocol Thursday and participated in practice. He'll play Sunday against Seattle. McKelvin probably will play, though a cross-country plane trip seldom is kind to an injured hamstring. Mills is expected to once again play a lot.

Nine games into his rookie season, Mills already has lined up across from the likes of Jones, the Cowboys' Dez Bryant, the Giants' Odell Beckham Jr., the Redskins' DeSean Jackson, the Steelers' Antonio Brown and the Bears' Alshon Jeffery.

He's won some battles and he's lost some. But the ones he's lost have had zero effect on his psyche.

"It happens to the best of the best," Mills said. "And they're the best for a certain reason. Because once it does happen, they come back and line up and play football."

Said Carroll: "Jalen's just a competitor. He doesn't back down from any challenge. He's not scared to get beat. That's what it is about this position that we play. You're going to get beat. You're going to give up 'X' plays. When you do, you just have to block it out and play the next play. Jalen's been able to do that."

No rush for Wentz

Carson Wentz has just six rushing first downs this season. There are 13 quarterbacks in the league with more, including, gulp, Tom Brady, who probably couldn't beat his wife Gisele in a foot race.

Considering that the Eagles are ranked dead last in the league in third-down efficiency, you might think Wentz's coaches would be encouraging the athletic rookie to try to pick up some first downs with his feet when the opportunity arises.

I mean, this is a guy who rushed for more than 900 yards in 23 starts at North Dakota State.

And he flashed his foot speed ever so briefly last week when he tucked the ball under his arm and picked up 13 yards on a second-and-12 scamper late in the third quarter that kept alive an Eagles scoring drive.

But for now, at least, that type of behavior will not be encouraged.

"One of the things that is a strength of Carson's is his athleticism, is his size," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "But in this league, over the long haul, you have to be able to do it from the pocket.

"Now, as he grows and develops as a quarterback, will he find his way to make a few more rushing first downs? I'm comfortable with where he's at, but with his athleticism, I do expect that over the course of time he will make some more first downs running the football."

On Sunday, the Eagles will be going up against a quarterback, Russell Wilson, who was given the green light to run the moment he became the team's starter as a rookie.

Wilson has had 30 or more rushing first downs in each of his first four seasons in the league. But he's faster than Wentz and better at protecting himself from big hits than the 6-5, 237-pound rookie.

"He has a really good conscience and he understands what the quarterback position means to us and how you can't throw your body in there and get banged up," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said earlier this week.

"So he's been really, really good at not getting hit. He'll take plays as far as he can and he'll make the choices that we would want him to make. I totally trust him in that.

"That's a very valuable quality that not all of the young quarterbacks have. But he definitely understands."

Said Wentz: "I want to be a passer first. I want to throw first. When the pocket breaks down, I might try to improvise. But I'm still trying to throw."

This and that

* Colin Kaepernick has added something else to his list of things he doesn't do. Besides not standing for the national anthem, he also doesn't vote in elections. He explained the reason, but he lost me after "it would've been hypocritical of me." I asked Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins what he thought of Kaepernick's decision not to vote and the convoluted explanation he gave for why he didn't.

"Everybody has their right to vote or not vote," Jenkins said. "But I think it's important, especially when you're talking about sending a message to the generation behind us, our youth, it's important that when you want to change something, to use your voice and your right (to vote) to have input in that change.

"Even if it's not for a presidential candidate, there's a lot of things you have to vote on for your state, community and things that directly affect the people that you live with. And even if you don't like any of the candidates, there's always that blank line that you can write something.

"So it's important to send a message to the kids that you have a voice and this is how you can directly affect what's going on around you. Because people fought for our rights to be able to vote. That's one of the main rights of being an American. You have the ability to weigh in on whatever's going on in the country."

Nicely put.

* While I'm very happy that Brian Dawkins is one of the 26 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I'm disappointed that the three other people I lobbied for in emails to my 47 fellow selectors - Dick Vermeil, Eric Allen and Sam Mills - did not make it. Mills, who played for the USFL's Philadelphia Stars before going on to a successful career in the NFL with New Orleans and Carolina, was a semifinalist last year. Sam passed away in 2005 from cancer. And I continue to be mystified by the lukewarm support for Vermeil.

* Eagles safety Chris Maragos knows first-hand how loud it can get at CenturyLink Field. He played for the Seahawks for three years before signing with the Eagles in 2014. "I remember the NFC Championship Game against San Francisco the one year," he said. "The 49ers were driving. A couple of minutes left. That place was so loud. I remember later, being back home and sitting on the couch and my ears were still ringing."

From the lip

* "That dirtbag, man. We've gotta stop prioritizing sports over humanity. Just because somebody can throw a football or coach football, they're excluded from their wicked acts."

- Lions LB DeAndre Levy, on Joe Paterno, whose leg he once broke in a sideline collision when he played for Wisconsin

* "We are not focused on wins and losses this year."

- Sashi Brown, VP of football operations for the 0-10 Browns

* "Tony's smart. He's very bright. When he came out and said it, in the end, I don't think it took him long to figure that wouldn't be a great thing for the team. We've got a good team and no one wants Dak looking over his shoulder."

- Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones, on Tony Romo asking to compete for the starting QB job in practice with Dak Prescott before stepping aside and publicly acknowledging that it's Prescott's team now

* "I don't ever see myself like him. He was so spectacular. He's in a league of his own."

- Patriots QB Tom Brady, on Joe Montana

By the numbers

* Cardinals RB David Johnson, who had 101 scrimmage yards and 2 TDs in his team's 23-20 win over the 49ers, is the first player to have at least 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his team's first nine games since Edgerrin James in 2005.

* Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has won eight consecutive starts. That's the second longest winning streak by a rookie QB in the Super Bowl era. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers won 13 in a row in his rookie season in 2004.

* Titans RB DeMarco Murray ran for a 75-yard touchdown and threw a 10-yard TD pass in last week's 47-25 win over the Packers. He's the first non-QB to have a 75-plus-yard TD run and a TD pass in the same game since John Henry Johnson in 1960.

* Speaking of the Titans, Marcus Mariota is the first QB in league history to have three games with a 70-plus percent completion rate, at least four touchdown passes and no interceptions in his first two NFL seasons.

Figuring the Eagles

The Eagles have run 582 plays in their first nine games. Three hundred ninety-two, or 67.3 percent, have been out of shotgun. A rushing and passing breakdown from shotgun and under center:

PASSING

.........................C-A.......Yds.......TD/I...........Sks.

Shotgun.........165-263....1637......7/5.............18

Under Center.....37-48......484......2/0..............1

RUSHING

.......................Shotgun..............Under Center

Player...........Att.-Yds....Avg....Att.-Yds....Avg.

Mathews...........31-132.....4.2.....64-264.....4.1

Sproles...........34-171.....5.0.....27-133.....4.9

Smallwood.........15-96......6.4.....29-109.....3.8

Barner............15-69......4.6......5-35......7.0

Wentz.............15-50......3.3......12-(-4)...-3.0

Huff..............0-0........-........3-10......3.3

Agholor...........0-0........-........1-5.......5.0

Totals......... 110-528.....4.8.....141-540....3.8

* The Eagles have blitzed on 71 of 333 pass plays (21.3%) this season. They've blitzed a lot more lately. In their first five games, they sent extra rushers on just 31 of 172 pass plays (18.0%). In their last four, they've blitzed on 40 of 161 pass plays (24.8%), including on 10 of 35 pass plays in last week's win over the Falcons. A game-by-game breakdown of the Eagles' blitz this season (note: these numbers only include blitzes with five or more rushers and don't include the dozen or so fire-zone blitzes defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has called where he drops a lineman into coverage and rushes a linebacker or safety):

Pass vs. BLITZ

Team...Plays..Blitzes..Cmp.-Att....Yds....TD/I...Sks.

CLE..... 29................3..............2-3................27......0/0.........0

CHI..... 32...............12..............7-11..............75......0/1.........1

PIT..... 48................7...............6-7................83......0/0.........0

DET..... 29...............3...............2-2................21......1/0.........1

WAS......34.............6...............3-6................85......0/0.........0

MIN..... 47.............13..............5-10.............54......0/0.........3

DAL..... 42.............12..............5-12.............81......0/0.........0

NYG..... 37.............5...............3-4...............42......2/1..........1

ATL..... 35............10..............6-10.............102.....0/0.........0

Total... 333......71.........39-65..........570.....3/2.....6

* Just nine of Carson Wentz's 36 passes against the Falcons traveled more than 10 yards. He was 2-for-4 for 32 yards on throws of 11-15 yards, 1-for-2 on throws of 16-19 yards and 1-for-3 for 20 yards on throws of 20-plus yards. A week earlier in the Eagles' loss to the Giants, Wentz threw a season-high 12 passes of 20-plus yards, completing just four. For the season, Wentz is 14-for-39 on passes of 20 yards or more. Through the first nine games, 61.9 percent of his passes have been 10 yards or less.

* In the first nine games, 62 of the Eagles' 118 third-down opportunities, or 52.5 percent, have been 8 yards or more. That's a considerably higher rate than last year when just 40.4 percent of the Eagles' third-down situations (93 of 230) were 8 yards or more. The Eagles converted 22.6 percent of their third-and-8-pluses last year. So far this year they've converted just 17.7 percent of them. The Eagles are an atrocious 3-for-39 on third-and-10 or more. They haven't converted a third-and-10-plus in the last four games.

* Getting off to a fast start Sunday certainly would help lower the crowd volume at CenturyLink Field. But fast road starts haven't been the Eagles' M.O. so far this season. They've outscored opponents at home in the first quarter 17-0, but have been outscored on the road in the first 15 minutes, 42-9. At home, they have averaged 6.1 yards per play and have scored 24 points on their first two possessions of games. On the road, they have averaged just 4.0 yards per play and have scored 13 points on their first two possessions. The defense has an even worse early-game home-road differential. In their four home games, they've held opponents to 3.1 yards per play and have yet to give up a point on the first two possessions. On the road, opponents are averaging 6.4 yards per play on the first two possessions and have scored 28 points.

* In their last two games, the Eagles held the Giants and Falcons to 2.8 yards per carry. Eleven of the 37 opponent run plays in those two games resulted in zero or negative yards, including six on first down.

* The Eagles have 27 pass completions of 20 yards or more this season. That's the 12th fewest in the league.

@Pdomo Blog: philly.com/Eaglesblog

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