INDIANAPOLIS — “From what I see so far, it’s going to be a good day.”
That, according to PhillyVoice’s Jimmy Kempski, was Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham’s reaction when asked about going up against the Indianapolis Colts and tackle Joe Haeg on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Graham, of course, has reason to be confident, seeing as though he’s coming off a career year in which he had 47 tackles, 9.5 sacks and two forced fumbles, and was a huge piece to one of the best defensive lines in football.
That defensive line was a major reason why the Eagles were able to win their first-ever Super Bowl title.
But that doesn’t mean Haeg, or the Colts for that matter, aren’t coming into Sunday’s matchup with confidence, too. Indianapolis (1-1) defeated the Washington Redskins, 21-9, last Sunday, on the road, and held the likes of Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan — who combined for 21 sacks last season — to just one quarterback hit the entire ballgame.
So what does Haeg make of Graham’s comments?
“I mean, it’s all talk,” Haeg said Thursday. “I don’t really put too much weight into it. It’s just, we go out there — we’ve gotta do what we gotta do. They have good players, but we do, too, and it’ll be fun to get out there.”
While some players thrive with trash talking — either by making comments themselves, or by utilizing “bulletin board material” — Haeg just isn’t wired that way.
Nah — he’d just rather go to work.
“I definitely don’t look for stuff like that. I never have,” he said. “I don’t really put too much into it. Usually when people say, ‘Oh, you went against so-and-so today. How was that?’ I’m like, I just know numbers, usually, based on the guys. But, yeah, I don’t look into any of that stuff.”
Haeg did get a unique opportunity to throw a little shade this week, however.
Sunday is expected to be the 2018 debut of Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, who was putting in an MVP-caliber season last year when he suffered a season-ending torn ACL in December.
Wentz was college teammates with Haeg at North Dakota State, and the two have remained close since entering the NFL. That led to a little banter via text message last night.
“We were just talking about random stuff, and he says, ‘I hope you lose,’” Haeg recalled. “And then I said, ‘I hope we score more points than you.’”
All kidding aside, Haeg said he’s happy for Wentz, who has made a quick recovery from knee surgery.
“He had the right mentality from the get-go,” Haeg said. “Obviously that was hard for him to go through, but I’m excited that he’s back.
"Obviously I want him to lose, and maybe throw a couple picks (on Sunday),” Haeg said with a smile. “But, no, I mean, it’s good for him. He’s obviously a star athlete, a future star in the NFL, and I think that it’ll be good that he’s back out there doing what he does.”
“Oh yeah. When you’ve got one year of experience between three guys, you don’t have much say in it. So just get your butt out there and do what you’re supposed to do when you’re called on. But I think they all take ownership in it, regardless of how many snaps they get. And I think it’s working for us. … I don’t think we’ve got ego guys in our room right now. I mean, they’re too young — they’re too naive — to have an ego.” — Colts running backs coach Tom Rathman, when asked if he young players have reacted well to a running back-by-committee system.
Here’s Thursday’s full practice report:
» DNP: DT/DE Denico Autry (ankle); T Anthony Castonzo (hamstring); TE Jack Doyle (hip); WR T.Y. Hilton (quadricep); RB Marlon Mack (foot/hamstring); RB Christine Michael (illness); DT Hassan Ridgeway (calf); CB Quincy Wilson (concussion)
» Limited: T/G Denzelle Good (knee/wrist)
» Full: S Clayton Geathers (knee/elbow); CB Chris Milton (concussion)
— It’s a second straight day of missed practice for Hilton, Mack, Wilson, Castonzo, Doyle, Ridgeway and Autry. Those are some big names who, at the most, will get just one official practice in before Sunday’s game against the Eagles — and that’s if they can even practice tomorrow.
— Hilton, for what it’s worth, said on an appearance on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” today that, “I should be fine. Nothing to worry about,” in regard to the Eagles game. Hilton’s 40 consecutive starts entering Sunday is third in the NFL among active wide receivers.
— Geathers was able to go on Thursday after missing practice on Wednesday. That’s a good sign considering his was so vital to the success of the defense in the win over the Redskins, especially playing as a dime linebacker and racking up 11 tackles.
— Milton, who was wearing a red (no-contact) jersey on Wednesday, was back to his traditional practice jersey on Thursday, Coupled with being a full participant, that’s also good news.
— This is the first time we’ve seen Michael on the injury report, which left the Colts with just two active running backs practicing today in Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines. The team also has running back Jeremy McNichols on the practice squad.