By Tom Waring
Eagles radio broadcaster Merrill Reese brought his Pro Football Report last week to the Philadelphia Protestant Home social hall, 6500 Tabor Ave. in Lawndale.
Reese was joined by former Eagles punter Sean Landeta and Delaware County Daily Times writer Bob Grotz in a live taping open to the public, complete with refreshments, raffles, photos and autographs.
The show was scheduled to return to the Protestant Home on Aug. 28, after the Times’ deadline, with Reese joined by former Eagles wide receiver Harold Carmichael. That show can be heard Aug. 30 from 4 to 5 p.m. on 610-AM and Aug. 31 from 6 to 7 p.m. on 1490-AM.
As for the Aug. 20 show, audience members included Steve Clement and Calvin Clement, the father and grandfather, respectively, of Eagles running back Corey Clement, a Glassboro, New Jersey native who caught a touchdown pass in the team’s Super Bowl LII victory.
Clement was an undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin who made an immediate impact, making a tackle on the opening kickoff of the season against the Washington Redskins.
“What a good running back department the Eagles have. It’s a solid group, when you have Darren Sproles back, Corey, Jay Ajayi,” said Reese, adding that Donnel Pumphrey and Central Bucks South High School graduate Josh Adams could contribute.
Reese also likes rookie tight end Dallas Goedert.
“We expected Dallas Goedert to be something special, and he hasn’t let anybody down. He’s been an outstanding, outstanding player,” he said.
At wide receiver, Reese likes Mike Wallace’s speed, and said Shelton Gibson could be the surprise of the year.
“He has been nothing short of outstanding,” he said.
Grotz predicted that the receivers will be Wallace, Gibson, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins and someone cut from another team at the end of the preseason.
Grotz and Reese have both spoken to Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland about Jordan Mailata, a former rugby player from Australia. Stoutland had kind words for Mailata, a seventh-round draft pick. Landeta, though, called Mailata “a reach.” Reese compared moving from rugby to football to him broadcasting a game in French.
Landeta punted for 25 years in pro football, beginning his career with the Philadelphia Stars of the old USFL and later serving two stints with the Eagles. He won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants. Reese said he should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Landeta likes new Eagles punter Cameron Johnston, an Australian who kicked at Ohio State.
“I’m very impressed with him. I think he’s going to do a good job,” he said.
As for the season, Landeta said the Eagles will be challenged because they’ve had a shorter offseason and lost players to free agency, and other teams have improved.
Landeta does not believe the other three teams in the NFC East — the Redskins, Giants and Dallas Cowboys — are capable of winning 10 games.
Landeta likes new Giants running back Saquon Barkley, picked second in the NFL Draft. But Reese said the Giants should have picked a quarterback to eventually replace 37-year-old Eli Manning.
Reese also believes the Cowboys will miss retired tight end Jason Witten and wide receiver Dez Bryant, whom they released in the offseason.
Grotz said the Eagles have a hard schedule, with five of the first eight games against 2017 playoff teams. He expects the Minnesota Vikings, whom the Eagles beat for the NFC title, to be better with new quarterback Kirk Cousins. And he notes that Sproles, quarterback Carson Wentz and offensive tackle Jason Peters are coming off knee injuries.
Reese and Landeta know the Eagles are the hunted this year, not the hunter.
“Everybody is gunning for you because you’re the defending world champs,” Landeta said. ••