Eagles, Giants meet in key NFC East game
Two teams dealing with off-the-field problems will square off on Sunday in a key battle in the NFC East.
The Philadelphia Eagles (4-3) travel to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., for a 1 p.m. kickoff against the New York Giants (4-3). Both squads will be looking to gain ground on the Dallas Cowboys (6-1) in the crowded East.
The Eagles will be doing so without wide receiver/kick returner Josh Huff, who the team released Thusday after he was arrested on the Walt Whitman Bridge that connects South Philadelphia to New Jersey on Tuesday morning.
According to the Delaware River Port Authority, Huff was stopped at approximately 11 a.m. heading to New Jersey for speeding. Huff had a gun, loaded magazine (which wasn't in the gun) and less than 50 grams of marijuana in his possession.
He is also facing charges for DUI, speeding and, because the windows of his vehicle are tinted, obstructed view.
“Obviously I'm disappointed,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson told reporters on his weekly conference call Wednesday. “It's not what you want on a player's day off to see happen. He and I spoke about it privately.
“It's one of the things I talk about all the time with players. You just try to eliminate distractions and take care of your business outside of the building. He understands. Obviously, it's out of our hands at this point. We just got to see where it goes.”
That incident follows a charge that linebacker Nigel Bradham had a loaded gun in his backpack at Miami International Airport during the Eagles' bye week in October.
The Eagles certainly would have benefitted from having the speedy Huff on the field. He possesses game-changing ability for an offense that lacks a big-play receiver. In last week's overtime loss to Dallas, Huff reeled off a 53-yard kick return that set up an Eagles field goal. The return was the third in as many games of 50 yards or more for Philadelphia.
Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has completed 65.8 percent of his passes, but the majority of his passes are of the dink-and-dunk variety. He is only averaging 6.69 yards per pass, mostly due to poor pass protection. Wentz has been sacked 15 times.
Defensive tackle Bennie Logan returned to the practice field in a limited capacity for the Eagles on Wednesday. Logan suffered a groin injury in the loss at Washington and has missed the past two contests. Fellow defensive tackle Taylor Hart was sidelined with an ankle injury.
Pederson said guard Allen Barbre is “week to week” with a hamstring injury. Stefan Wisniewski will start at left guard if Barbre is unable to play, according to Pederson.
The Eagles have lost three games on the road and are still in search of a division win.
“I think the emphasis is greater, for sure,” Pederson said about the clash with the Giants. “Teams that want to make the postseason, obviously have to handle their division. Right now, we've put ourselves in a little bit of a hole.
“So, yeah, the importance of winning this game is probably a must for us in the division.”
The Giants, coming off their bye week, will unveil their new kicker, Robbie Gould, to the home fans for the first time. Gould replaces Josh Brown, who was cut by the Giants last week after police documents revealed admissions of repeated domestic abuse against his wife.
Gould was successful in his only field-goal attempt in a 17-10 win over the Rams in London two weeks.
Giants general manager Jerry Reese refused to discuss the Brown situation with reporters this week, saying, “I'm not going to talk about Josh Brown. I don't think it makes sense for people to keep talking about that right now. I wish healing for him and his family and everybody involved.”
The Giants have yet to establish a significant running game halfway through the season, and they will find it tough sledding against an Eagles defense that give up 114 yards on the ground per game.
New York is last in the NFL in rushing, averaging just 70 yards a game. Rashad Jennings leads the group with 142 yards. Look for rookie Paul Perkins to share the workload.
The Eagles' defense is third in the league in sacks, those sacks having come from 12 different players, including defensive end Brandon Graham and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who share the team lead in sacks with 4.0 each.
“About one in three snaps they pressure,” said Giants head coach Ben McAdoo of the Eagles. “They're not a high-pressure team per se — it depends on the situation. They do a nice job with their defensive line, creating the pressure, squeezing the edges and getting their front up the field. They rotate a lot of different guys that way.”
All 53 Giants players practiced this week. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (hip) was one of seven players who was listed as limited in practice. Beckham told Giants.com that he is about 85 percent recovered from the injury, which he incurred in Week 6 against the Ravens. Beckham admitted that he was only at 65 percent healthy in the victory over the Rams before the bye.