Eagles looking to Lions, not bye week
By Les Bowen
This past week, you had to admire the Eagles' "Never Say Bye" attitude.
Sunday's encounter with the Lions is the Birds' last before their annual 1-week in-season vacation, but nobody said a word about this during the week of Detroit preparation. Even when reporters asked, players went all Sgt. Schultz on us.
Most players are well enough versed in the conventions of the NFL to know that you don't acknowledge you're looking forward to a break when you still have a game to play before the break arrives.
Wideout Jason Avant went so far as to proclaim he has made no bye-week travel plans, because he doesn't know what the practice schedule might be.
Avant has been here since 2006. If Andy Reid has held a practice during the bye week at any point in the past 6 years, I sure don't remember it. In fact, an Eagles spokesman said Friday there has been no bye week practice at any point in Reid's previous 13 Eagles seasons. Avant said he did remember one, didn't recall what year it occurred. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, players must have at least four successive bye-week days off, including Saturday.
"I'm not really looking forward to the break, I'm trying to get to 4-2," Avant said Friday.
Reid, 13-0 the week after the bye, is 6-7 the week before, but the Eagles have won in that situation 3 of the past 4 years. They lost six of seven going into the bye from 2001 to 2007.
The only Eagle who acknowledged the looming bye might be a bit of a distraction was the cornerback who always marches to his own drummer, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
"It's a danger. It is tough, because you're going home," Rodgers-Cromartie said.
"You've been out here, 5 weeks of hard football, some of us are thinking about going home, but more important, you got to get that win, you got to get that game in."
Rodgers-Cromartie said he'll head home to Florida, "take all that time off, just relax, give my body a break."
Tight end Brent Celek said focusing for the pre-bye game "isn't tough at all."
"Going into the bye week, you want to win, you want to have a good taste in your mouth that whole week," Celek said. "Guys know how serious it is. This is a big game for our football team. There's a huge difference between being 3-3 and 4-2. If we want to go a long way, this is a big step."
Someone mentioned to right tackle Todd Herremans that, given some of the holes the Birds have had to climb out of in the past, 3-3 really wouldn't herald the apocalypse.
"We're trying not to do that this year," he said. "So that it's not such a stressful second half of the season.
"I think the guys are probably looking at the [Detroit] game, probably focusing on it a little more than usual, because [they don't want to sit on a loss for 2 weeks]."
Rookie corner and returner Brandon Boykin agreed: "We have to take care of this, especially at home. It's a huge game for us, especially going into the bye week."
Boykin said he plans to head home to the Atlanta area, but will review film while he's there.
"It'll be more of a relaxation for your body, not really mentally," Boykin said.
Coming out of the bye, Reid's perfect record will get what is looking like its biggest test. The Atlanta Falcons will visit Lincoln Financial Field. They entered this weekend as the NFC's only 5-0 team.
Earlier in the week, I saw Michael Vick carrying a football from the team's public relations offices to the locker room. I took a quick swipe, didn't dislodge it. Turns out I wasn't alone. Vick, who has lost five fumbles in five games, said Friday he carried the ball with him as a reminder much of the week, but everybody kept trying to knock it out.
"They tried every time. The stakes got pretty high, and I had to put it down," Vick said.
"Breakfast, to the meetings, lunch," Vick said when asked where he'd carried the ball. "Everyone thought it was funny, but I didn't. That's how much I care about this team, and that's how much I care about our success and winning on Sundays. I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that I take care of my responsibilities."
Asked how Vick has done with ball security in practice during the week, Andy Reid said: "He's hung on to the football."
Andy Reid was asked whether he thinks his team is close to breaking out and putting everything together.
"As opposed to winning by two points or losing by two points [the past 2 weeks]?" he answered. "You never know. All you care about it, if it's one point, it's one point. I'm good with that. I'm taking them any way that we can get them. I don't complain about that. But can we get better in areas, so we're more efficient in areas? Yeah, we can do that, and that's what we're working on doing."
Detroit is 1-3, but has 102 first downs to its opponents' 74, including a 73-40 edge in passing first downs. The Lions are outgaining opponents by 96.5 yards per game . . . No injury questions loomed for the Eagles as they entered the weekend . . . Asked Friday about DeSean Jackson returning punts Sunday, Andy Reid said: "We'll see. We'll see how that goes. That's not necessarily where I'm at right this moment" . . . Reid said Riley Cooper has been inactive so far because of uncertainty over his healing broken collarbone, not because Reid thinks other WRs have bypassed Cooper . . . Asked what Calvin Johnson's nickname "Megatron" suggests to him, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said, "Something big and deadly." Asked about defending Johnson, DRC said: "You have to put a couple people on him. You've got to go and take him out of the game. Don't even allow him to get started. Frustrate him early."
Contact Les Bowen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @LesBowen. For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' blog at eagletarian.com.