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Can Philadelphia Eagles continue dominance of NFC East? – Philadelphia Eagles Blog

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As the NFL turns its attention to the draft and free agency, Dallas Cowboys reporter Todd Archer, Washington Redskins reporter John Keim, Philadelphia Eagles reporter Tim McManus and New York Giants reporter Jordan Raanan look to the 2018 season with a series of questions this week.

Monday’s question: Are the Eagles prepared to run the East like they did under Andy Reid?

Archer: It certainly looks that way, with a relatively young roster, Carson Wentz, who was potentially the MVP before his knee injury, returning and a defense that is excellent. The Eagles won the NFC East from 2001 to 2004 under Andy Reid and six times overall in his tenure, making it to four conference championships and one Super Bowl with Donovan McNabb and a strong defense. They were the class of the division for a long time. The Eagles deserve all the credit they are getting for this Super Bowl run under Doug Pederson. He did a phenomenal job of managing a team that lost its starting quarterback, left tackle, middle linebacker and versatile running back. Other than the New England Patriots, it is difficult for teams to maintain success. Players lose drive. Players want to get paid more. Coaches leave. The dynamic changes. The only NFC team with back-to-back playoff appearances in 2016 and ’17 was the Atlanta Falcons. The NFC East has not had a team repeat as division champs since Reid’s 2003-04 Eagles, so history is not on Philly’s side.

Keim: It’s hard to imagine any team in this division winning four straight NFC East titles as Reid did from 2001-04. However, no team is better positioned to be a consistent contender — and this Eagles team of course already did something Reid’s could not. You don’t win a Super Bowl after your MVP quarterback gets hurt unless you have a complete team. So they’re certainly in the best shape moving forward, and it’s hard to know who will be a consistent threat. Dallas won 13 games two years ago, but will it fix the defense and can Dak Prescott improve? The Redskins have changed quarterbacks but must improve their defense and add another playmaker or two on offense. New York has a new coach and an old quarterback. Even if another team rises next season — it’s possible — the Eagles are the team to watch over the next five. My big worry involves the salary cap. Though they have 20 of 22 starters under contract, they’re approximately $9 million over the 2018 cap and rank at or near the bottom in cap space in ’19 and ’20 as well. They’d better draft well or that stay at the top won’t last as long as they’d like.

McManus: Pretty crazy that no team has repeated as NFC East champs since those Reid squads rattled off four straight from 2001 to 2004. There have only been two constants within the division over the last decade-plus: parity and Eli Manning. If any team is going disrupt that trend, it’s this group. Wentz is 25 years old and has all the makings of an elite quarterback. No one was playing the position better than Wentz before he tore his ACL in Week 14 against the Rams. While injury concerns will surround him until he logs some miles on that reconstructed left knee, he’s the type of franchise QB who can lead a team on a run of sustained dominance. Coaching is the other key ingredient, and Pederson proved to be an innovative playcaller and intuitive leader during the 2017 Super Bowl run. As the Eagles showed when Wentz went down, this is a well-constructed team that runs deep. All but two starters are under contract for 2018, and most of the core is locked up long-term. Things will get trickier when Wentz is no longer on his rookie deal — he’s eligible for a new contract after the ’18 season. Already up against the salary cap, the Eagles will eventually need to go lighter in some areas to account for what promises to be a monster commitment to their QB. But executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman and the Eagles front office have proven adept at finding ways to make the puzzle pieces fit together and should have this team in position to contend for the NFC East crown for the foreseeable future.

Raanan: Be scared, NFC East. Be very scared. The Eagles will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. Just think, they were good enough to win the Super Bowl without the MVP of the league before he was injured. As long as Wentz is healthy, he will have Philadelphia in contention just about every year, just as Donovan McNabb did with the early-2000s Eagles. The rest of the NFC East should be worried. It’s not like the Eagles don’t have good players around Wentz either. They undoubtedly do. They have the ultimate recipe for success in today’s NFL — a stud quarterback and a disruptive front four. That’s not going to change for a while. The only thing that could derail this Eagles team from becoming a perennial contender is Wentz’s recklessness and health. It’s never a good idea for a quarterback to take on NFL linebackers head-to-head. Eventually, it doesn’t end well for the quarterback.

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Atlanta Falcons’ Julio Jones to play against Detroit Lions despite hamstring

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Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, who was limited in practice time this week with a hamstring injury, will play Sunday against the Detroit Lions, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Jones returned to the lineup last Sunday and had eight catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns in the Falcons’ 40-23 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

After sitting out the Falcons’ Week 3 loss to the Chicago Bears, he played just 15 snaps in Week 4 and did not play in Week 5 with the same hamstring injury.

Jones sat out practice Wednesday before being a limited participant Thursday and Friday.

He has 23 catches for 350 yards and two touchdowns this season.

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Arizona Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins expected to face Seattle Seahawks

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Arizona Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins, listed as questionable for Sunday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks due to an ankle injury, is expected to play, a source tells ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Hopkins was held out of practice this week due to the injury, which has plagued him much of the season. Despite regularly appearing on the injury report, Hopkins hasn’t missed a game and leads the NFL with 47 receptions for a league-leading 601 yards and two touchdowns.

Hopkins had two receptions for 73 yards in Monday night’s win over Dallas. He’s missed just two games due to injury in his eight-year career.

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Las Vegas Raiders activate offensive linemen Kolton Miller, Denzelle Good, Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson off COVID-19 list

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HENDERSON, Nev. — The Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday activated four starting offensive linemen who had close contact with right tackle Trent Brown earlier this week.

Left tackle Kolton Miller, left guard Denzelle Good, center Rodney Hudson and right guard Gabe Jackson came off the COVID-19 list Saturday but must still test negative for the virus on Sunday morning in order to play Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

None of the four players have tested positive since going on the COVID-19 list this week as “high risk” close contacts to right tackle Trent Brown, who did test positive on Wednesday morning.

The four players were with Brown at practice on Monday. According to league protocol, as high risk contacts, they had to test negative for five consecutive days, plus the last day of contact.

Safety Johnathan Abram had contact with Brown on Tuesday, so there is not enough time for him to finish the protocol and play against Tampa Bay.

Brown was not wearing his tracking device, as mandated by NFL protocol, on Monday, so practice film had to be scoured to see who Brown had been close to that day.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Friday that Brown, who remains on the COVID-19 list, was feeling better.

With Miller, Good, Hudson and Jackson in self-isolation and joining the Raiders virtually this week to prepare, Las Vegas practiced with an offensive line of Brandon Parker, John Simpson, Andre James, Patrick Omameh and Sam Young. Left guard Richie Incognito remains on injured reserve.

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