Tim Jernigan

Eagles starting D-lineman Tim Jernigan returns to practice

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Philadelphia Eagles starting defensive tackle Tim Jernigan returned to practice Friday after missing two days this week because of an illness.

The NFC champions had everyone participate as they continued preparations to face the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Coach Doug Pederson gave a lengthy speech after practice, according to a pool report.

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

“Play loose, have fun, enjoy the moment,” Pederson said he told his players. “These opportunities, as you know, don’t come around every year. Also, make sure just to reflect on this season, reflect on the journey that got us here. But just play for one another, have fun and enjoy it.”

Hall of Famer Brett Favre, who was backed up by Pederson in Green Bay, is scheduled to address the Eagles on Saturday morning and the team will hold a 30-minute walkthrough at U.S. Bank Stadium.

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Eagles’ Fletcher Cox set for 1st taste of any Super Bowl

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) Fletcher Cox is playing in the first Super Bowl he’s seeing.

Or so he says.

The three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle is a big reason why the Philadelphia Eagles are facing the New England Patriots next Sunday in Minneapolis for a chance to bring home the franchise’s first Vince Lombardi Trophy.

But the 27-year-old Cox isn’t much of a football fan. He insists he’s never even watched a Super Bowl.

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

“I don’t watch sports,” Cox said. “You know that.”

If he spends the night getting in Tom Brady‘s face and helps the Eagles win their first NFL title since 1960, Cox may want to watch the highlights sometime.

First, all that matters is winning.

“We haven’t been talked about all year,” Cox said. “That’s our story. No one has been talking about the Eagles, the defense, or the offense. If you go back and look, we finished in the top five of a bunch of different categories. This team just keeps finding ways to win, and that’s our motto.”

Cox, the 12th overall pick in the 2012 draft, had 5+ sacks in 14 games, recovered two fumbles and returned one for a touchdown. He often faces two or three blockers, so that allows his teammates opportunities to make plays.

“Cox is as good as anybody in the league at his position,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “He’s a very disruptive player, hard to block, run, pass, no matter what it is.”

Earning praise from Belichick doesn’t come easy. Cox appreciates it.

“It’s a lot of respect from a coach like Belichick, a guy that’s been around, a guy that’s seen a lot of great players in this league,” he said. “For him to say that that means I obviously must be doing something right. But at the same time, I’ve got three other guys besides me that’s helping me push that limit, that’s helping me get that recognition and I want to do the same thing for those guys.”

The Eagles have plenty of depth on their defensive line. Ends Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry and tackle Tim Jernigan start along with Cox. Chris Long, Derek Barnett and Beau Allen also played at least 40 percent of the snaps.

“I wish it was just four (linemen),” Belichick said. “It’s a very disruptive group. They have some edge rushers, a good interior pass rush. They come hard every play. You have to block them on every play. There are no plays off. To deal with that front down after down, they wear you down. It’s a great group and a huge strength for their defense.”

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has enough confidence in all the players to rotate them in and out for series at a time. Because they split reps, they still look fresh this late in the season. It showed in a pair of dominant performances against the Falcons and Vikings in the playoffs.

“To roll in that many guys and not see a drop-off, it’s great,” Cox said. “We’re pushing those guys to be on the same level as us.”

Cox knows harassing Brady is the key to success against the Patriots. The Giants sacked Brady five times in their stunning Super Bowl upset 10 years ago, spoiling New England’s perfect season.

Led by Cox and Graham, the Eagles generate a strong rush without having to blitz much. They’ll need to keep extra defenders in the secondary against Brady.

“It’s going to come down to the front four guys getting after the quarterback, making him uncomfortable in the pocket,” Cox said.

Easier said than done against Brady.

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Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP-RobMaaddi

Cowboys beat playoff-bound Eagles 6-0

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) Healthy? Yes. Sharp? Not quite.

The Philadelphia Eagles are heading into the playoffs with no further injuries after playing it safe in a 6-0 loss to Dallas on Sunday.

Dak Prescott tossed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Brice Butler early in the fourth quarter and the Cowboys denied the Eagles a franchise-record 14th win.

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

The Eagles (13-3) rested several starters on a frigid day and played others briefly after securing the NFC’s No. 1 seed last week. They’ll have two weeks to work on a slumping offense before hosting a playoff game on Jan. 13 or 14.

“I’m not concerned,” coach Doug Pederson said. “I have confidence in our guys.”

Nick Foles struggled in one quarter, going 4 of 11 for 39 yards with one interception. Foles was excellent in his first start after Carson Wentz went down for the season, tossing four TD passes in a 34-29 win at the Giants on Dec. 17. But he has followed up with two poor performances.

“I feel great and I know what I can do,” Foles said. “I know the guys are confident in me. We expect to execute better. This wasn’t acceptable. We know how talented we can be. We can do special stuff.”

Second-year pro Nate Sudfeld replaced Foles and was 19 of 23 for 134 yards in his first career game. He was tackled inside the 5 after catching a lateral on a desperation play to end the game.

“Pretty solid for the most part in terms of efficiency and everything,” Sudfeld said. “But I felt there were some plays that we weren’t able to finish.”

The Cowboys (9-7) earned their second straight winning season for the first time since five in a row from 2005-09. That’s little consolation for Dallas, which was eliminated from playoff contention in Week 16.

“I’m sad the season is over,” Ezekiel Elliott said. “I wish we were playing in the playoffs. I’m going to use that as fuel for next year.”

The Cowboys drove 99 yards for the first score. A holding penalty on Rasul Douglas on an incomplete pass on third down extended the drive and Prescott connected with Butler on a slant on third-and-7. Dan Bailey hooked the extra point wide left, only his second career miss in 278 tries.

Bailey also missed a 23-yard field goal wide left with 13 seconds remaining.

Elliott ran for 103 yards, falling 17 short of 1,000 in only 10 games. He was the first player to reach 100 against the Eagles since Washington’s Matt Jones ran for 135 yards in Week 6 last year.

The teams were 0 for 12 on third and fourth down before the Cowboys converted on third down late in the second quarter. The Eagles got their first third-down conversion midway through the third quarter. Sudfeld then ran 22 yards on another third down and the crowd roared.

Philadelphia’s best drive with Foles was the game opener. The Eagles drove to the Cowboys 39 before Torrey Smith dropped a pass on third-and-7. Foles was hurried and threw an incomplete pass on fourth down.

Foles underthrew Alshon Jeffery and was picked by Chidobe Awuzie at the Cowboys 48 on Philadelphia’s third possession. It was Awuzie’s first career interception. The offense went three-and-out on the first unit’s fourth and final series.

DEZ SAYS

“Wherever they want me to be,” Dez Bryant said when asked about his expected role for next year. “I just want to win. That’s all I care about.”

SCORELESS HALF

This was the first NFL game to be 0-0 at halftime since the Bears-Broncos in Week 14 of 2011. It was the first time in a Cowboys-Eagles game since the series began in 1960.

LAYERING UP

Eagles P Donnie Jones ran onto the field for a punt with his warmup pants still on and had to rip them off before the snap. He pinned the Cowboys inside the 5 with his punt and later placed one at the 1.

SID’S DEBUT

Eagles rookie CB Sidney Jones, a second-round pick, played his first game. Jones ruptured his Achilles tendon before the draft.

RESTING UP

Five of Philadelphia’s defensive starters – LB Nigel Bradham, DE Brandon Graham, DT Tim Jernigan, S Rodney McLeod, CB Jalen Mills – and one regular – DE Derek Barnett – were inactive. DT Fletcher Cox and S Malcolm Jenkins played one series. RB Jay Ajayi also was inactive.

INJURIES

Cowboys: Awuzie left the game with a shoulder injury.

Eagles: Graham (ankle) and Mills would’ve played if the game mattered.

UP NEXT

Eagles: A first-round bye followed by a home playoff game on Jan. 13 or 14.

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