Eagles, 49ers talking Torrey Smith trade

Eagles coach Doug Pederson initially said after Mathews suffered the injury in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks that the lead back was day-to-day. But now that Mathews is slated to be sidelined for at least one week, Pederson has changed his tune.

“There’s always that fear, especially with the knee. We just want to make sure that it’s 100 percent before we put him back out on the practice field,” Pederson told reporters Saturday. “There is a concern that it could linger because now we will be coming off a Monday night game into a short week and going back on the road, so we’ve just got to find out next Wednesday where he’s at.”

Jamison Crowder is a fascinating athlete who notched his third touchdown of the season after shredding the Ravens last week with an 85-yard punt return to the house. Sunday’s score — a beautiful 16-yard grab in the back-left corner of the end zone — marked the fourth touchdown of the year for a Redskins wideout now serving as a core member of Washington’s air attack.

It gets no easier for the skidding Eagles, who play eight of their final 11 games against clubs that currently have a winning record, including the Vikings, Cowboys, Falcons, Seahawks, Packers, Redskins, Ravens and Cowboys.

Although Philadelphia’s 2017 first-round pick went to Cleveland in the Carson Wentz trade, general manager Howie Roseman compensated by picking up Minnesota’s top draft pick in the Sam Bradford swap. The Eagles also have an extra fourth-round selection from the Browns deal.

Roseman has been one of the most active wheelers-and-dealers since regaining his office from Kelly. It will be no surprise if Smith is soon catching passes from Wentz as the Eagles try to keep pace with the Dallas Cowboys in a tight NFC East race.

“When this coaching staff came in, they told us, ‘We’re going to give you the tools you guys need to own this defense. You guys need to take it over,'” cornerback Nolan Carroll said. “That’s a great feeling as players and I think you see the results.”

With Fletcher Cox making an early case for consideration behind Von Miller in the Defensive Player of the Year discussion, Brandon Graham in a defense better suited to his talents and a playmaking safety duo in Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, the Eagles defense is soaring. Through three games it’s the prefect mesh of talent and scheme.

“I don’t have any connections with the Eagles or I wouldn’t be out there on my lunch break not getting lunch,” Lloyd told BillyPenn.com on Tuesday. “I clock out for lunch early to get there. I have a boss who’s cool enough to let me take a lunch break at 11 o’clock to go see Swoop and give him a high five.”

Obviously, the Eagles have no limits to how many times someone can win the contest, though we suspect that’s something that might change before next season. Not that I’d agree with it: If Mr. Lloyd is winning these tickets fair and square, the Eagles should build the contest around that. Kind of like how ratings on Jeopardy! shot up when Ken Jennings won 74 games in a row.

Those young linemen include recent draft picks Bronson Kaufusi, Carl Davis and Willie Henry in addition to undrafted 2016 standout Michael Pierce.

From the Eagles’ perspective, they sacrificed 25 spots in the draft for a one-year audition with a talented underachiever at a position of need. It’s likely no coincidence that vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas was in Baltimore’s front office when Jernigan was drafted out of Florida State.

Jaguars DB Jalen Ramsey undergoes surgery

The trick in Jacksonville boils down to turning quarterback Blake Bortles into a reliably functional starter. Fans saw progress in the signal-caller over Marrone’s two-week coaching stint to close the season, but Bortles was a white-hot mess for much of the year.

As the team’s website points out, though, the Jaguars saw considerable improvement after Hackett replaced Olson, with the offense trending up in time of possession (30th to 13th), goal-to-go efficiency (15th to fourth) and red-zone efficiency (16th to fifth). During that span, Jacksonville also upped its ground game from 30th in yards to fifth and 26th to 13th in yards per rush.

Although Garrett is widely expected to be the No. 1 overall pick by the Cleveland Browns, the Jaguars aren’t far behind with the No. 4 overall selection. Whether the Jaguars might look to trade up for Garrett, or if he were to somehow fall to No. 4, the club is getting its homework done on the draft’s top player.

More realistically, the Jaguars could land any of three rushers coming to Jacksonville this week for visits, as well. LSU’s Leonard Fournette, FSU’s Dalvin Cook and Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon will head to the First Coast, as well, per the Florida Times-Union. Fournette and Cook are expected to be first-round selections, while it appears Mixon, whose draft stock has been hurt by character concerns, could fall to Round 2. The Jaguars’ second-round pick comes at No. 35 overall. They ranked 22nd in the NFL last year in rushing at 101.9 yards per game. Leading rushers T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory rushed for fewer than 500 yards each and scored just four touchdowns between them.

Getting Allen Robinson involved early was key for Bortles. In his previous five games, Robinson compiled 105 total yards. Saturday, A-Rob went for 147 yards on nine receptions (12 targets). Robinson corralled receptions of 37, 28, 21, 18 and 16 yards. When Robinson is making plays for Bortles, the Jags can be a potent offense. Games like Saturday leave you shaking your head, wondering how the duo could post so many woeful afternoons this season.

The Titans couldn’t get anything going on the ground against Jacksonville, posting just 58 total rushing yards. The Jags’ defense swarmed the line of scrimmage. Young players showed the promise on the Jags roster that will make Jacksonville a desirable destination for the next coach. Dante Fowler Jr. was in Mariota’s face early, notching a sack, three QB hits, two passes defended, and hit the quarterback’s arm on a pivotal third down play early in the second half. Rookie corner Jalen Ramsey continued his dynamic season, breaking up four passes and piled on the Titans with a pick-6 of Cassel.

This was not a difficult decision. During his breakout sophomore year, Bortles was one of the higher-ceilinged quarterbacks in the NFL before a regression in Year 3. Because the option is only guaranteed for injury, the Jaguars can quickly cut ties if Bortles’ slide continues. If he bounces back, they have another season with an affordable passer under center.

The Jaguars were an obvious candidate to select LSU running back Leonard Fournette from Day 1 given how the power back can aid Bortles and negate some of their trouble up front. However, the pre-draft rumor mill, which at times associated Jacksonville with a passer, clouded some opinions on the eventual move.

Linder moved to center in 2016, where he shined as one of the best young players at the position. Pro Football Focus rated Linder as their No. 5 center last season.

The 25-year-old excelled at guard as a rookie in 2014 before missing most of his second season due to injury. The switch to center went seamlessly last season, making it a no-brainer for the cap-space flush Jags to lock down their young blocker for the long-haul.

With all the pressure mounting on Jacksonville’s defense to be great, nipping any nagging injury in the bud during the summer break was the right move. Ramsey, who played up to lofty expectations last year with a pair of interceptions (one brought back for a touchdown), 14 pass breakups, a forced fumble and 55 solo tackles. The club spent lavishly this offseason atop the cornerback market, pairing Ramsey with former Texans standout A.J. Bouye in order to build on their strengths.

Most of the time, core muscle injuries simply need rest and time. With a month-and-a-half break coming up, Ramsey has just that.