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Reporters' Notebook

Eagles refocusing, Marcus Peters' absence, Rams toughening up

With Week 14 of the 2017 season upon us,'s network of reporters collects the hottest news and notes from across the league, including:

-- Darrelle Revis' expanded role with Marcus Peters out.

-- How the inexperienced Rams are getting ready for the playoffs.

-- What's most impressed Adam Thielen about Case Keenum.

But first, Steve Wyche finds out how the Eagles are approaching a momentous showdown ...

LOS ANGELES -- Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount was real and unfiltered in talking about how his team has taken the sting of last Sunday's loss to Seattle -- just its second of the season -- and applied it to a mental realignment of the work that it takes to win again.

"We needed to refocus," he said. "It didn't take long. We're dialed in."

Blount and several other players said that during the nine-game winning streak which ended Sunday, they got a little loose with some details on both sides of the ball. The fixes are easy and will be made.

The L to the Seahawks encouraged the Eagles to sharpen their preparation and practice efforts, but it hasn't necessarily been the course-correcting motivator Philly needed on its quest to get to the playoffs. That is proving to be this week's opponent: the Los Angeles Rams, who are just as eager as the Eagles to show that what they've done over the first 12 games of the 2017 season is nothing compared to what they're going to do down the stretch.

With no one in the NFC East anywhere near catching Philadelphia, the 10-2 Eagles can clinch the division and a playoff berth with a win over the Rams. But that's a short-term goal. The 9-3 Rams, meanwhile, must continue winning to keep Seattle (8-4) from overtaking them in the NFC West.

"We've been challenged," Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said.

Blount said being isolated in Southern California this week has also helped players streamline their attention, recovery and practice habits.

The Eagles, who opted to stay out west after playing the Seahawks in Seattle last week, have been practicing at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, where the MLB's Angels play. The stadium was converted so that the Eagles have a 100-yard field, with goal posts to boot. They're staying nearby -- and they're too far away from the Los Angeles nightlife (it's a little more than 25 miles from L.A. to Anaheim) to engage in it, with Blount adding, "We're not out there for that."

The Eagles also are about an hour away from the raging wildfires that are devastating portions of Southern California, including areas near the Rams' practice facility in Thousand Oaks. In fact, Rams players had to adjust Wednesday's workout to stay out of the poor air conditions created by smoke and debris. Incidentally, the team that seems most put out by the unfortunate fires isn't the one staying and practicing in temporary conditions nearly 3,000 miles from home.

There didn't seem to be any concern by either team or the NFL that the fires or air quality will affect the game being played near downtown L.A. at the Coliseum, although the situation is being monitored.

The biggest storyline -- before, maybe during and after the game -- will be the matchup of second-year QBs Jared Goff of the Rams and the Eagles' Carson Wentz. The respective Nos. 1 and 2 overall picks of the 2016 NFL Draft have shown incredible growth and success this season. Each has said that's largely based on having an entire offseason and ensuing regular season getting starter's reps at practice under creative and offensive-minded head coaches.

Wentz is a real MVP candidate, having thrown for 3,005 yards, 29 touchdowns and just six picks with a 102.0 passer rating. Goff has 20 TDs, six interceptions and a 98.4 passer rating, but he's piled up more yards than Wentz (3,184).

It's the first meeting between the two pre-draft training partners and, according to Wentz, friends. The only thing Wentz is downplaying is the QB vs. QB showdown. He understands the magnitude of this game -- and his team's true focus.

"We'll be forever linked because of the draft and everything," Wentz said. "We're both excited for this game and just for those matchups in the future. At the end of the day, they're a great football team, and so are we right now, so there's a lot riding on this one."


NFL: Targeting rule not likely to be implemented in near future. The NFL's executive vice president of football operations, Troy Vincent, said on a conference call this week that he thought the league had to consider adding a college-like targeting rule in an attempt to further reduce hits to the head.

But implementing the rule remains a long shot unless Commissioner Roger Goodell pushes for it, according to a league official who is familiar with recent Competition Committee discussions. While the committee has talked in the past about the targeting rule, which would call for a mandatory ejection for hits to the head and neck area of a defenseless player, it has not done so recently. Despite the ever-increasing focus on ways to reduce head hits and Vincent's statement that the rule acts as a deterrent in college football, it is likely to run into the same concerns that have prevented it from becoming a rule in previous years.

The primary concern has been raised by coaches, who rail about the possibility of players being thrown out of games for judgment calls. They can envision a scenario in which a team is down to its last player at a certain position, and then that player is tossed. The coaches' view on bad hits: Let the league office handle it, in the form of fines.

The long-held resistance to ejecting players extends even to game officials, who were encouraged in a league directive this season to use ejection for flagrant fouls. The ejections that have come this year have mostly been for players who fight. Still, Vincent's comment that a targeting rule is "clean" means that its benefit is that it would relieve officials of the burden of making a judgment call about whether to eject by simply making the ejection mandatory.

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KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Does Peters' suspension mean bigger role for Revis?Chiefs head coach Andy Reid suspended his star cornerback, Marcus Peters, for perhaps the biggest game of the season thus far. On Sunday, Kansas City plays host to the Raiders, and the AFC West is up for grabs between those two teams (as well as the Chargers).

Last Sunday, Peters was upset with a call, took the official's flag and threw it into the stands. Then he left the field, only to return shortly after finding out he had not been ejected from the game. The suspension is entirely Reid's doing, not the league's.

Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson told me things will be different defensively without Peters on the field.

"It's not about one guy, but he's dynamic, I'll tell you that," Johnson said of Peters. "We will miss him, but next guy up has to step up. Of course, you can't call the game exactly like you would when Marcus was playing with us. There will be a little adjustment, scheme-wise."

Veteran cornerback Darrelle Revis (32 years old) isn't at Peters' level at this point of his career, and he's only been with the Chiefs for two games (and active for one). Revis played 36 defensive snaps against the Jets last week in his first NFL action in roughly a year, with all of those snaps coming in the first half. Johnson told me the expectation is Revis will play significantly more this Sunday against Oakland.

"He's still getting his feet wet," Johnson said. "He's an older guy, and he's been in the league for a long time; you think he can just sit out almost a whole year and then come back and almost be balling out. It's not going to be quite like that. It's going to be a little bit of an adjustment. But he's a smart player, man. He's one of those players where [if] something didn't work last time in his technique or in his last time out or last game, he's going to change it up. He's a guy that can adjust well when it comes to change on the field."

Hill dealing well with increased defensive attention. One of the few upsides for the Kansas City Chiefs -- a team that has now lost six of its last seven games -- is the development of second-year wide receiver Tyreek Hill. In his first full season at the position, he's already amassed 60 receptions for 911 yards and six touchdowns. That puts Hill on pace for 80 catches and 1,214 yards.

"For Tyreek, the biggest challenge, for sure, is understanding that he's a marked man every game as a wide receiver," Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said. "So he's coming into these games, and they're game-planning when they go into it. Last year, he was kind of new to the scene, and we used him in different areas. Not that we're not still doing that now, but [defenses are] putting in game plans for him. He's adjusted well to it."

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LOS ANGELES RAMS: Regular-season gauntlet providing playoff prep. While just seven players currently on the Rams' roster have playoff experience, the current stretch of their schedule -- featuring five games in six weeks against teams currently in the playoff picture -- is getting them primed for a potential postseason run. Handling their emotions as each game becomes more prominent than the last will be key for sustained success, starting with Sunday's showdown against the Eagles and followed by games against the Seahawksand Titans.

"I can't imagine how excited I'm going to feel before the game on Sunday," offensive lineman Rodger Saffold told me. "But you have to calm yourself down and, by the first drive, refocus on how to affect the guy across from me."

The Rams are 1-1 so far in these playoff-preview type matchups, having lost in Minnesota in Week 11 before beating the Saints at home in Week 12. (They also beat the Cardinals, the only sub-.500 team in this stretch, last week.) Head coach Sean McVay isn't changing his approach to preparation -- still emphasizing getting better each week -- but he is encouraging his players to enjoy these games, noting the difference between excitement and pressure.

"These games are fun," McVay said, "but it doesn't make it any more pressure -- it just makes it more exciting because of what our guys have done and what they've done to make the game a little bit more intriguing."

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MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Keenum has Thielen marveling. Minnesota quarterback Case Keenum is enjoying the best season of his six-year career. After taking over for injured starter Sam Bradford, Keenum has led the Vikings to eight straight wins, and he's played well enough to keep the team's franchise quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, on the bench after Bridgewater returned from a devastating knee injury that robbed him of his 2016 season. One of Keenum's biggest fans also happens to be rising star receiver Adam Thielen.

"There's been a few times where I don't even know if he saw the guy and still made him miss, and then made another guy miss, and then delivered a perfect ball to me," Thielen said. "He just found me, which is tough to do when there's 10 guys around you. There have been a few plays where I think, Man, I don't know how he got out of that, No. 1, and then I don't know how he delivered the ball and got hit while doing it and put it in a perfect spot."

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