PHILADELPHIA – It was a football news conference on Wednesday that took on a boxing theme, with a reference to Rocky and Adrian and a prizefight.
Clearly, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni wasn’t pulling any punches when he talked about having a full house of fans at Lincoln Financial Field for Sunday’s home opener against the San Francisco 49ers (1 p.m./FOX) and why it is he and his players referred to the victory over Atlanta as winning round one.
First, the fans.
This will be the first home game with a capacity crowd expected in South Philadelphia for the first time since the 2019 season, before COVID-19 swept in.
“This home crowd matters,” said Sirianni. “Can't wait, knowing that the margin of error is that small and now we have the home crowd out here cheering us on, that's a huge advantage, super excited to feel that energy, to feel that energy when we come out.
“I'm going to be looking at that screen when Rocky comes on. I've talked about Rocky before. But I'm going to be looking at that screen when Rocky comes on, and Adrian says, ‘Win,’ and everybody gets juiced up. I'm going to have some energy when I see that.”
And about he and the players referring to each game like a round, as in, 'we won round one now it’s on to round two?'
“It's like a heavyweight prizefight, all those people pay all that money to go see it and the Pay-Per-View to see it,” said the coach. “It's the comparison that every game is a heavyweight championship bout. It's a couple different modes like it's playing the next play mode and next game mode but every round freaking matters, and let's go.”
“You can win round one,” he said, “and if you're sitting in the corner thinking about how good you fought round one, you're going to get your butt kicked in round two.”
The Eagles played eight of them on Sunday and one more could be added to the mix against the 49ers – Landon Dickerson.
The second-round pick was taking reps at right guard during special team drills and presumably got them during team drills as well, though the media isn’t allowed to watch practice after warmups and individual work.
Dickerson was in there because Brandon Brooks did not practice, one of five players who sat out the muggy afternoon.
Brooks was designated a DNP to a “knee and resting player.”
The right guard was limited last week with a knee injury but played 100 percent of the snaps against the Falcons.
If Brooks can’t go, Dickerson could be ready after being listed as a full participant on Wednesday.
The Alabama rookie was ruled out from last week’s game as he continues to recover from a torn ACL late in his final season with the Crimson Tide.
In addition to Brooks, the other players who did not practice were WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, S Marcus Epps (concussion), TE Zach Ertz (hamstring), and DE Ryan Kerrigan (personal matter).
Ertz had the hamstring flare up against the Falcons but returned to the game. Sirianni said afterward that he was removed just as a precaution, so it’s likely the injury won’t prevent Ertz from playing on Sunday.
Limited at Wednesday’s practice were six players, all with the designation of “resting player.” They were DT Fletcher Cox, DE Brandon Graham, RT Lane Johnson, C Jason Kelce, RB Miles Sanders, and CB Darius Slay.
Safety Rodney McLeod was also limited but with the same knee, he continues to rehab from a torn ACL suffered late last season.
Listed as a full participant for the first time since early in training camp was linebacker Davion Taylor.
NO BIG PLAYS
The Eagles’ defense did not give up any plays more than 20 yards against the Falcons.
In today’s NFL, that is very good, but it’s not likely sustainable for any great length of time.
“We practice not giving up big plays,” said CB Darius Slay. “There were probably a couple plays they could have had, but they missed that they probably want back. But guys like we have, we’re out there hunting. We gotta be better.”
Asked if the No. 1 priority under new DC Jonathan Gannon was a priority, safety Anthony Harris said it is, but added other items on the defense’s to-do list.
“I think that’s part of it,” said Harris, who played all 72 defensive snaps along with CB Steve Nelson. “Eliminating big plays, whether that’s big shots over the top, yards after catch, you want to be fundamentally good tacklers, but penalties as well.
“We don’t want to give up penalties, give up free yards, so it’s playing with good discipline and playing complimentary with what we’re doing on the back end with what’s they’re doing up front as well.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I’m focusing on having a clear soul, clear mind, and going into every week excited and grateful for being in the position I’m in.” – WR Jalen Reagor
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.