PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Before the Philadelphia Eagles begin their quest

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for a repeat , they’ll have one more celebration.The first Super Bowl banner in franchise history will be unveiled in front of a sellout crowd that waited seemingly forever to witness the moment.Then it’s on to defending their crown.Coach Doug Pederson and his veteran players have preached throughout the offseason the importance of moving forward and focusing on the present if the Eagles are going to have any chance of becoming the ninth team to repeat as Super Bowl champs.They have a tough opponent Thursday night in the NFL opener. The Atlanta Falcons were 2 yards away from knocking the Eagles out of the playoffs in the divisional round, but Matt Ryan’s pass to Julio Jones fell incomplete in the right corner of the end zone.“It’s going to be a great night,” Pederson said. “The fans are going to be crazy and they’re going to be excited. It’s going to be great for the banner to be dropped. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. This football team, though, they understand this is a different season. It’s a new team, new year. We’re sitting here 0-0 with a great opportunity against a great opponent. Quite honestly, that’s their focus.”The Falcons understand they were real close to advancing to the NFC championship game. Beating the Eagles this time around won’t make up for the loss in January, but the goal now is to finish the season at home in Atlanta, where the Super Bowl will be played in February.“They had a great team last year Womens Timmy Jernigan Jersey ,” Ryan said. “I’m certain that the atmosphere will be good, obviously with them celebrating (what) they did last year. Once that settles, it comes down to us, our 11 on the field against their 11.”Nick Foles filled in for Carson Wentz, led the Eagles to their first championship since 1960 and earned Super Bowl MVP honors . Foles again will be under center; Wentz hasn’t been medically cleared following surgery last December to repair two torn knee ligaments.Foles struggled in the preseason, but he was excellent when it mattered in the playoffs. Foles had a 115.7 passer rating, completed 72.6 percent of his passes and threw for 971 yards, six TDs and one interception in three playoff wins.“You have to get a rhythm,” Foles said Stefen Wisniewski Jersey , comparing his quarterbacking to his days playing basketball. “If I go play pickup basketball right now, I’m not going to be very good because I haven’t played in a long time. But if I play for a couple weeks, I’ll be back to who I used to be. I’ll be able to shoot everywhere, I’ll probably be able to dunk again a little bit. It’s the same with football. That’s how I am as an athlete.”Some things to know about the Falcons-Eagles rematch:THEY’RE BACK: While the Eagles won’t have Wentz, three key players who also sustained season-ending injuries last year will return. Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, versatile returner/running back Darren Sproles, and playmaking linebacker Jordan Hicks are healthy and ready to go. Pederson held Peters and Sproles out in preseason but expects them to be sharp.UNHAPPY HOMECOMING: Ryan, who grew up rooting for the Eagles and went to Philadelphia’s William Penn Charter School, is 1-4 at Lincoln Financial Field. Even during his MVP season two years ago , he had his worst game in Philly. He was 18 of 33 for 267 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a 24-15 loss.TEVIN’S TIME: Devonta Freeman (865, 7) and Tevin Coleman (628, 5) combined for 1,493 yards rushing and 12 TDs last season, but the Eagles had the NFL’s stingiest run defense and held the Falcons to 86 yards on the ground in the playoff game. Coleman, however, had 79 yards on 10 carries.THROW IT TO JULIO: Jones, a two-time All-Pro, only had three TD catches last season and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian wants to make sure they find him inside the red zone.“We need to get No. 11 the ball Womens Isaac Seumalo Jersey ,” Sarkisian said.MISSING MEN: Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Mack Hollins won’t play because of injuries, so the Eagles will rely on veteran Mike Wallace, second-year pro Shelton Gibson, and Nelson Agholor to pick up the slack.Fletcher Cox continues his dominance with an interesting streak Fletcher Cox’s chase for hardware in the form of a Defensive Player of the Year Award means more than just creating pressures and taking down quarterbacks. Granted, he’s quite excellent at doing that too. Per Pro Football Focus, he’s tied for most pressures (13) in the league with Minnesota Vikings’ defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson and is terrorizing opposing offensive lines. He also has to contribute in the run game and be sure as a tackler, which PFF has pointed out is not a problem for Cox.That’s a pretty niche stat, but points to Cox’s dominant overall game. He’s been the biggest bright spot on a defense that struggled to slow down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ attack and his contributions have helped lessen the loss of injured defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. He’s also masked a problem on defense that has lacked edge pressure outside of the consistent performance of Chris Long.His tackles have come in clutch moments too, including a massive stop on 2nd & 1 on the Atlanta Falcons’ first red zone trip in Week 1.He continued his stellar play in Week 2 against the Buccaneers Chuck Bednarik Jersey , which you may have missed while watching the secondary get carved up by Ryan Fitzpatrick. Totaling 6 pressures on the day, Cox also contributed once more against the run by leading a unit that only allowed two successful runs in the entire second half.There’s a long season ahead, but the pass rushing/run stopping/tackling machine that is Fletcher Cox shows no signs of slowing down. Having already batted aside above average talent like the Falcons’ Alex Mack and the Buccaneers’ Ryan Jensen, he now sets his sights on Indianapolis Colts’ center Ryan Kelly. Perhaps rookie guard and man-child Quenton Nelson will get in on the action too. Won’t that be fun?
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