PHILADELPHIA >> You know you’ve arrived when you’re a part of the NBC Sunday Night Football intro with Carrie Underwood.
Four defending Super Bowl champion Eagles made the grade this season, including Carson Wentz, Fletcher Cox and Zach Ertz.
The other Philly player is Lane Johnson. He’s the first offensive lineman to make the show in the Underwood era, and only the second ever to be part of any SNF intro. Jets center Nick Mangold made it in 2012, when Faith Hill was the headliner.
“Linemen are left out of everything in this league,” Johnson said Thursday. “And I’m here to try to change that a little bit. But that was fun. I think linemen need to start getting their swag game up and they need to start representing a little bit more in the NFL because they do a whole lot for their teams.”
No one is more deserving of the attention than Johnson. The Eagles are 20-4 with a Super Bowl title when he’s played for Doug Pederson. They’re 44-19 when Johnson plays since Chip Kelly took him off the board with the fourth overall pick in 2013.
“He’s the best tackle in football,” Eagles Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks said with a grin. “Better not let JP know.”
JP would be left tackle Jason Peters, who’s had an epic career with the Eagles. Center Jason Kelce playfully warned Brooks that there could be trouble if Peters found out. The truth is that Peters, 36, is a big fan of Johnson and the line that dominated the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, the Eagles prevailing 41-33.
But back to the SNF intro. All four of the Eagles players will be shown coming out of a tunnel at Lincoln Financial Field, where some of the scenes were shot.
“I think it’s really cool actually,” Cox said. “Last year I was a part of the Monday Night one and that was really fun. Really, you get just a bunch more exposure. The Sunday night thing is a big deal. Me, Lane, Ertz and Carson. It was big for us. It’s just a chance to show that people are starting to respect this team a whole lot.”
Ertz echoed Cox. All but Wentz in the group were voted to the Pro Bowl.
“We just did some walkout stuff at the Linc and then Fletch and I did some other stuff,” Ertz said. “But it’s cool to be asked to do it. It’s definitely an honor. There were only 10 guys, and four Eagles. It was definitely exciting for us.”
The rest of the NFL cast for the intro consists of Dak Prescott (Cowboys), rookie Saquon Barkley (Giants), Kirk Cousins (Vikings), Russell Wilson (Seahawks), Jared Goff (Rams) and Antonio Brown (Steelers). Prescott and Wilson have been part of the intro, while the other quarterbacks have not.
Rolling with Wentz for the SNF opening isn’t without drama, as he’s still not all the way back from knee surgery. The Eagles scaled back his practice participation at training camp, limiting him in four straight practices. At this point Nick Foles, the Super Bowl MVP, could be the starter for the Sept. 6 opener on Thursday night.
If Wentz isn’t playing by the first Eagles’ Sunday night game, Nov. 11, the concern won’t be the out of date intro.
Johnson has insight many don’t. And he thinks Wentz will be ready for the season opener.
“I truly do,” Johnson said. “I mean, they’re kind of holding the reins back right now but I feel like if he wanted to go full-go right now he could. They do a good job monitoring him. Obviously, we want what’s best for Carson.”
Awkward? Not at all, according to Cox.
“I’ve got two great teammates,” Cox said of the quarterbacks. “Both of them play this game at a very high level. And I’m looking forward to watching those guys this season.”
Terrell Owens played eight seasons with the 49ers, three with the Cowboys, two with the Eagles and one each with the Bills and the Bengals.
The official Pro Football Hall of Fame hat for Owens has the Eagles’ colors and logo. The Birds were 17-4 in regular season games the diva receiver played for them, and 0-1 in the playoffs; i.e. the Super Bowl.
Owens, you may have heard, is boycotting the induction ceremony Saturday to host an event for himself.
The Hall of Fame cap for inductee Brian Dawkins, who gets his gold jacket Saturday, also has an Eagles logo.
Dawkins played 13 seasons for the Eagles, and three for the Broncos, joining them after then-Eagles president Joe Banner insulted him by playing hardball during contract time.
Jalen Mills got a look at slot cornerback Thursday, joining Sidney Jones and De’Vante Bausby, the top candidates to fill the shoes left by Patrick Robinson, who exited in free agency.
How did it go?
“I’ll be on the outside tomorrow,” Mills said. “It was alright. I think (Jim) Schwartz and Corey (Undlin) are just trying to get everybody in there and get a feel for it. But like I said. I’ll be on the outside tomorrow.”
The Eagles traded up on the third day of the 2017 draft to select running back Donnell Pumphrey.
The San Diego State product played in all four preseason games but wound up on injured reserve.
A few pounds heavier, Pumphrey has played hard with the second team and gotten looks with the first team.
“I think he’s done a great job of putting himself in a position to compete for a roster spot,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. “Just like all those guys. He knows it’s a competitive room. He’s trained hard and showed up and he’s making plays when the opportunity has come. But again, all those guys are doing really well and will be evaluated throughout the course of the preseason.”
The Eagles oppose the Steelers in the preseason opener for both next Thursday at Lincoln Financial Field (7 p.m.).