Late For Work 9/14: Eagles Up To Something In Suddenly-Closed Practice?

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Eagles Up To Something In Suddenly-Closed Practice?

Ravens fans and media have grown accustomed to the practice schedule in Baltimore. It's like most other NFL teams, where journalists are allowed to see only a brief portion of the start of practice.

But in Philadelphia, reporters were allowed to watch the full Thursday and Friday practices, and the first 10 minutes of Wednesday's practice, mainly for TV and photography.

Not anymore.

Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid announced yesterday that full Eagles practices will no longer be open to reporters, ending a 13-season custom.

He explained that it has gotten to the point where opening practice is an issue of competitive advantage, especially with the spread of information through social media. (I have to say I'm surprised he's left it open this long. Many coaches around the league feel the same way.)

But Philadelphia reporters are asking, "Why now? What triggered this move right now?"

Reid said there was nothing specific, but Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer wonders if it has to do with personnel reports.

Strategy and personnel were always off limits to reporters when full practices were open, but "there was a gray area with personnel."

The sudden change in policy [invites speculation](http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/20120914PhilSheridanEaglesdecisiontoclosepracticesinvites_speculation.html#ixzz26RRTYkkIWatch sports videos you won't find anywhere else), says Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan. And he's speculating …

Apparently Eagles defensive players have been "hinting" at some "high-level, innovative plan to handle the Ravens' no-huddle offense." Maybe they want to keep that a secret. 

But maybe it's something bigger. Maybe it has something to do with quarterback Michael Vick.

"How about this? Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that Reid and his staff had watched tape of Sunday's game in Cleveland and reached the same conclusion a lot of you reached – that Michael Vick is just not going to be the quarterback that leads this team to greatness," wrote Sheridan.

"What would the coaches do? They would start preparing rookie Nick Foles to take over the position. … If this idea has even begun to bloom as a possibility in Reid's mind, then closing practices to the media would be very appealing. Whether a proud and image-conscious guy like Vick would quietly be usurped without saying anything is another matter, but it might buy Reid a week or two."

The columnist admits the idea of Vick being benched sounds like a far-fetched idea (and it does), but he says the pressure to win could be enough for Reid to make the change.

We'll find out Sunday if the Eagles were planning anything special as they host the Ravens, or if all this hoopla is making a mountain out of a molehill.

NFL.com Source: Oher To Remain At LT

Eleven-year veteran Bryant McKinnie said he isn't sure if he will regain his starting role at left tackle this season and he is preparing for it just in case.

But according to NFL.com sources, the Ravens don't plan on giving the job back to McKinnie unless an injury were to trigger such a move.

"The Ravens are moving forward with Michael Oher as their left tackle, three sources told NFL.com and NFL Network," wrote Albert Breer and Ian Rapoport.

"This development helps explain the team's motives last week to ask McKinnie to take a pay cut, which he originally fought and eventually accepted. McKinnie's salary went from $3.2 million to $2.2 million, with playing time incentives giving him the chance to make it all back. Barring injury, that looks unlikely now."

Eagles Could Be 'Extremely Thin' At WR

Philadelphia could be "extremely thin" at wide receiver during their matchup against the Ravens, says ESPN.

Starting wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin both missed practice Thursday and their status for Sunday is unknown.

Jackson injured his hamstring during Wednesday's practice. Maclin is still recovering from a hip injury he suffered in the Eagles season opener and hasn't practiced since.

The top two receivers combined for a lot of production against the Browns Sunday, notching 11 catches for 173 yards and one touchdown.

Maclin appears to be the receiver in more doubt to play Sunday and Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg indicated that his absence could impact the Eagles' plans.

To bolster depth to the position, Philly re-signed Mardy Gilyard Tuesday. They also have Jason Avant, usually the No. 3 receiver, who has been limited with a wrist injury. He had four catches for 27 yards last Sunday.

How could this help the Ravens?

"The [Ravens] run defense wasn't adequate in a 44-13 win vs. the Cincinnati Bengals in their opener," wrote CSNBaltimore.com's J. Michael. "They're deep enough in the secondary to defend a potentially depleted receiver corps and give more support to contain the ground game of Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy."

D. Reed's Knee 98 Percent Healed

Ravens receiver/returner David Reed told CBSSports.com' Jason Butt that the ACL tear in his knee is 98 percent healed and expects to be back on the field when his time on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list is over.

He must remain on the PUP for at least the first six weeks of the season and then he has a three-week window to either return to practice and the active roster,* *go on injured reserve for the rest of the season or get released.

"I'm feeling really good," Reed told The Baltimore Sun. "I'm feeling better than last year. At the end of the six weeks, I'll be 200 percent by then definitely. I'm ready to pop out of my skin already. I can't wait, I feel good, I'm ahead of schedule. It's a blessing. I know I'm going to play this season."

McPhee Expects To Play vs. Eagles

Defensive end Pernell McPhee has missed two practices with a sore knee, but he told reporters he still plans on playing in the Philadelphia matchup.

"I expect to play Sunday," McPhee said, per CBSSports.com.

Butt added that McPhee had a large bag of ice taped over his right knee after the season opener against Cincinnati. He had a minor procedure on his knee this offseason.

The Ravens defense could use McPhee's services. He started against the Bengals and shared a sack with outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw.

Week 2 Picks: Ravens vs. Eagles

There are a few people out there who think the respective season-opening games for the Ravens and Eagles may have been a one-week blip, rather than the start of a trend this season.

But overall, pundits see Baltimore racking up its second win over Philly.

ESPN:* *10 of 12 experts pick the Ravens

Yahoo! Sports: Three of three experts pick the Ravens

NFL.com: Four of five experts pick the Ravens

Peter King (SI.com): Ravens 27, Eagles 17
A week ago, I never thought I'd pick the Ravens to win at the Linc, but I saw what I saw in Week 1, and so did you. I saw Mike Vick look lousy and I saw Joe Flacco look Manningish. And this Dennis Pitta ... if you need a tight end in fantasy football, go get him. Now.

Pete Prisco (CBSSports.com): Eagles 28, Ravens 23
The Ravens looked great beating the Bengals. The Eagles looked awful in barely beating the Browns. So why do I like the Eagles? They're at home. They can get after Joe Flacco. And there is no way Mike Vick plays like he did against the Browns. This is where not having Terrell Suggs shows up. Eagles get it going.

Peter Schrager (FoxSports.com): Ravens 31, Eagles 23
The Ravens put on a show Monday night in a 44-13 blowout of the Bengals. But should we have been all that surprised by the effort? Joe Flacco looked incredible all preseason, the no-huddle was working all summer, the kicking game improved with Justin Tucker and Ray Lewis lost 20 pounds in the offseason. The Eagles? They were very fortunate to escape Cleveland with a win. If they were against an actual NFL offense, they wouldn't have. Seeing the way the Ravens' D came at Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, I can't take the Eagles, in good conscience. Not with that offensive line.

Michael David Smith (PFT.com): Ravens 24, Eagles 17
The Eagles won ugly in Week One, while the Ravens won big. Much like they did last year, the Eagles look like a team that's less than the sum of its parts, and I like the Ravens to go to Philadelphia and win.

Mike Florio (PFT.com): Ravens 30, Eagles 21
A week after barely beating the toothless new Browns, the Eagles get a taste of the old Browns.  By the time it's over, Mike Vick may need Jeffrey Lurie to push the wheelchair.

Quick Hits

  • Ravens fans had a debate on The Flock message boards about Derrick Mason's tweet … @deemason85: Congrats to Ed Reed  for breaking rod woodsons return yardage(int). The greatest defensive player I ever played with! [Twitter]
  • "I'm not here to try to convince you that former Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell, who died one week ago today, should be in the Hall of Fame," wrote Jamison Hensley, who has been on paternity leave (congrats!). "My stance is that Modell should've been enshrined a long time ago." [ESPN]
  • Flacco has a chance to debunk this stigma against the Eagles … "[Flacco's] next challenge has always been his greatest -- the encore. There's never been any doubt whether Flacco can play like an elite NFL quarterback," wrote Hensley. "The question has been whether he can play like one consistently." [ESPN]
  • @RAVE_TV: 1 Winning Drive moment: Ray Lewis shouting "Are you having fun yet?!" to Courtney Upshaw (@334Upshaw41) after his 1st NFL sack. [Twitter]
  • @RAVE_TV: "You built a foundation & had the poise to stand on it." See John Harbaugh's postgame speech here (on 1 Winning Drive) [Twitter/BaltimoreRavens.com]
  • @raylewis52com: Did she really just ask me that? Check out my unexpected interview in the new Visa NFL ad [Twitter]
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