Practice squads get to travel with the big team to Super Bowl games... I did not know that!
My alliance with fellow Eagles columnist Dave Stoessel (EaglesAddict.com) paid off in that regard. Dave filled me in on the fact that PS8 guys get to travel with their respective teams to the Super Bowl.
The Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos each brought along eight extra players for Super Bowl week, but none will be allowed to suit up Sunday. Their main duty is to work on the scout team in practice, attempting to give the starters an idea of what they'll face from the opposing team.
Yep, their satisfaction comes from how well they impersonate others.
"If (the Seattle defenders) go out and do a good job, I'll feel pretty good about myself," said Arceto Clark, a rookie receiver on the Seahawks' practice squad.
During media appearances this week, the practice squad guys drew little attention, usually standing off in a corner by themselves while everyone crowded around stars such as Peyton Manning and Richard Sherman.
But their teammates sure appreciate what they bring.
Especially Seahawks receiver Bryan Walters, a former practice-squader who got promoted to the 53-man roster during the season.
"They are as much a part of this as we are," Walters said. "They do everything we do."
But Dave Stoessel's main focus this week has been on the Eagles and their search for defensive free agents.
Dave's got his sights set on the Steelers' Jason Worilds...
Here's Dave in his own write---
"By now you may know that I consider safeties Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward as the top targets for the Philadelphia Eagles in regards to free agency. However, there’s a chance neither will be available come March 11th. "
"Furthermore, Howie Roseman has already gone on record and seemingly indicated the Eagles will stay away from high priced free agents. Though that could very well be the case, I still think there’s a chance they’ll go after one marquee player if that player is still young, fits the team and fills a need."
"Jairus Byrd and/or T.J. Ward fit that description. However, if neither of those guys are available, who else could be of interest? Below I’ve listed some players the Eagles could have varying levels of interest in."
"A few will be considered “high priced” but the rest should be in the mid-tier level where Roseman apparently would like to do his shopping…"
OLB Brian Orakpo – The fit is obvious here. Eagles need a pass rushing OLB and Orakpo is the premier player slated to be available. He’ll turn 28 in July and is coming off a 10-sack season.
However, chances are slim that this would happen. With the Redskins about to emerge from salary cap hell, their number one priority will be to re-sign him. If not, there is a good possibilty that they will place the franchise tag on him.
Plus, I just don’t foresee the Eagles shelling out the amount of money he’ll command.
OLB Jason Worilds – 6′ 2″, 260 lbs, will turn just 26 in March. He’s two years younger than Orakpo and while he’ll still command good money on the open market, he shouldn’t be nearly as pricey as Orakpo.
This one bears watching. We’ll see if Pittsburgh ends up slapping the tag on him, but Worilds only became the starter this past season after 2013 first round pick Jarvis Jones was struggling.
The Steelers have said they want to re-sign him after turning in the most productive season of his young career (8 sacks, 2 FF’s), but with a total of 21 impending free agents and having LaMarr Woodley and Jones, they may just let him test the market.
OLB O’Brien Schofield - 6′ 3″, 242 lbs, will turn 27 in April. Schofield signed a one-year deal in Seattle after being cut by Arizona in July of last year. He only logged 147 snaps in Seattle and may have been a little out of place.
Why this guy? Mainly because he was drafted by Arizona in 2010 (4th round) when Bill Davis was the DC there. He played both OLB positions in the Cardinals’ defense and posted 10.5 sacks and 2 FFs in his three years there.
He will certainly be no more than a mid-level signing and would be looked at as quality depth, if not someone who will compete for a starting job.
ILB Arthur Moats – 6′ 2″, 250 lbs, will turn 26 in March. Again, this would be another mid-level signing for depth and competition. Moats is PFF’s 12th ranked ILB in 2013, but is just a part time player.
In just 301 snaps last season, he collected 34 tackles and 16 “stops” (PFF stat). DeMeco Ryans will almost certainly have good competition brought in this year.
DE Tyson Jackson – 6′ 4″, 296 lbs, will turn 28 in June. After being selected third overall in the 2009 draft, Jackson hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. However, that doesn’t mean he’s useless or a total bust.
PFF has him as the 14th ranked 3-4 DE in 2013, directly in between Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry. Last season he had four sacks, four batted passes and 23 “stops”, which by the way, is one more sack and just one less stop than Cox.
If he isn’t convinced to stay in Kansas City, he could certainly be a target for the Eagles. He would be considered a little “bigger” of a signing than Schofield and Moats, but certainly not close to the neighborhood of Worilds or Orakpo.
Again, another feasible signing with a doable contract.
DT Linval Joseph – 6′ 4″, 323 lbs, won’t even turn 26 until October. It’s highly questionable if he’ll ever hit the market because he should be a prime candidate that the Giants want to extend.
It’s also true that Joseph has spent his four year career playing as a DT in a 4-3 alignment. However, coming out of college has was projected equally as a 4-3 DT or a 3-4 NT. He has the size and capability to hold the point of attack at the nose.
He wouldn’t come cheap, but he shouldn’t break the bank either.
DE Arthur Jones – From the Ravens, 6′ 3″, 305 lbs, will turn 28 in June. He is PFF’s 12th ranked 3-4 DE after tallying 5 sacks and 30 stops in his first year as a starter. Like Jackson, he would be looked at as being part of a rotation and would add more stoutness at the point of attack.
He might be looking to cash in after a productive season, but he should still be viewed more as a mid-level signing.
S Donte Whitner – 5′ 10″, 208 lbs, will turn 29 in July. Besides Byrd and Ward, Whitner is the only other safety in free agency who would be considered an upgrade over what the Eagles currently have.
With Tom Gamble now in Philly, he should have an inside view on what Whitner could bring to the table for the Eagles. He’s coming off of a good season in San Fran and is PFF’s 6th-rated safety in the NFL in 2013.
The only knock against him is his age. While not “old” at 29, one does have to wonder how much longer he has before a decline in his skills. He plays at a position the Eagles have a dire need for and could ultimately be the best guy available depending on what happens with Byrd and Ward.
DE/NT B. J. Raji – 6′ 2″, 337 lbs, will turn 28 in July. The former 9th overall draft pick in 2009, Raji’s play has somewhat declined over the past few seasons after the Packers moved him to defensive end.
His best seasons came at the nose tackle position where he earned a trip to the Pro Bowl after the 2011 season. He reportedly turned down an offer for a multi-year contract extension this past past season so his future in Green Bay is a little murky.
The bigger question is what kind of contract he’s looking for. He’s coming off one of his worst seasons statistically and failed to record a single sack. However, I’d imagine the Eagles would be looking at him more as a nose tackle rather than an end.
Based on his most recent production, he shouldn’t be able to command that much on the open market.
The keys in looking at the above free agents are that they play positions of need, most of them are young, a few have ties to to someone with the Eagles, they would provide an upgrade to the roster (as depth and/or starter) and all but Linval Joseph come from a 3-4 defense.
Thanks to Dave Stoessel for that prelim scouting report on possible free agents the Eagles may be looking at....
Meanwhile in New Jersey-----
WHEN THIS BOAT'S A-ROCKIN'---- The Denver Broncos might've been a little seasick during their final media appearance before the big game.
The Broncos are staying at a Jersey City hotel that juts into the Hudson River, and their sessions with reporters took place on a luxury yacht anchored next to their rooms.
On Thursday, that big boat was rockin' pretty good.
"My stomach is not too good on stuff like that," defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said. "I'm trying to be mentally tough right now, but it's bothering me a little bit."
He didn't expect to need his sea legs at the Super Bowl, and some of his teammates were more vocal in their complaints --- especially those who can't swim. The whole experience was a little disconcerting for them.
At least Knighton can swim, and the 335-pound lineman made it clear he'd be saving himself --- and quickly--- if there was any need to abandon ship.
"I've never been on a boat before. So it's cool," he said. "But I think there's better ways they can do it."
YOUTH MOVEMENT: The Super Bowl halftime show keeps getting younger and younger.
Twenty-eight-year-old Bruno Mars is the most youthful performer to headline the show since New Kids on the Block in 1991, and keeps up a definite trend toward youth in the NFL's booking philosophy. Now I told you guys about Bruno Mars over two years ago, and y'all went "Whaaaa?" The kid is a Hawaiian cross between Elvis Presley and James Brown. And he can play gee-tar like Prince.
After Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction debacle, the league went with one geriatric performer after another, including Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Prince, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, finally culminating with a much-ridiculed performance by The Who at the 2010 title game in South Florida.
But Beyonce put on a dazzling show last year in New Orleans, and Bruno Mars landed the coveted gig at MetLife Stadium even though he still considers himself an emerging artist.
"I couldn't believe it," he said of getting the call from the NFL. "We were like, `Man, I hope one day we get the call to do that.' It definitely came soon. We're honored. Some greats have been on that stage. We're just excited that we're getting this shot."
PROMISING FORECAST: Each day brings a Super Bowl forecast that looks more promising than the last.
It now appears the temperature could climb near 50 degrees F. on Sunday, though it will certainly be colder when the game kicks off in the early evening.
Still, the expected low --- now projected at 29 degrees F.--- is much better than anyone could've hoped for after such a frigid East Coast winter. And the chance of precipitation continues to be virtually nil.