Kobe Preaches Focus and Preparation to Eagles
(973espn.com) - The biggest news at Eagles' practice during the week -- yes, even bigger than the free Mike Trout bobbleheads -- was Kobe Bryant stopping by to talk with the team.
The NBA legend and pride of Lower Merion remains a huge Eagles fan and Donnie Jones' No. 8 had to take a back seat to the 18-time All-Star and five-time league champion, at least for a day.
Bryant, known for his laser focus and competitiveness as perhaps the best "closer" in NBA history not named Michael Jordan, zoned in on that aspect of one's preparation in the shadow of raised expectations.
"There will be a lot of hype, a lot of talk, especially going into the postseason," Bryant said when discussing things with the Eagles' website. "You can't let that emotional roller-coaster distract you."
Bryant grew up in the Philadelphia area because his father Joe, a former first-round pick out of La Salle, was a member of some great Sixers teams in the late 1970s, including the 1976-77 club that lost in the NBA Finals to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Bryant ultimately returned as a superstar with the Lakers to dispatch the Allen Iverson-led Sixers in the 2000-01 finals.
In the locker room these days many of the Eagles love to debate who was better -- Jordan or LeBron James -- and Kobe's name also comes up quite a bit.
How you get into those kinds of conversation is what Bryant was trying to impart to have his favorite football team.
"You have to focus on detail, the smallest of things," the former MVP explained. "How to execute, execute, execute. You go over those things so much, you download them so much in your mind, that when you step out onto the field to perform, you can forget about them because they're just naturally there. That was a big message."
We will see if it was received Sunday in L.A.
“Kobe’s always been someone I’ve admired just by the way he approaches the game and the way things have played out for him,” receiver Torrey Smith told The Delaware County Times. “Even his best situations and his worst situations, to watch them from afar and then kind of know the insides now about what he was really thinking, and how he approached the game, those are things you can take away from it."
ERTZ IS VERY IFFY:
The Eagles' leading receiver remains in the league's concussion protocol and has been listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Rams at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Tight end Zach Ertz was able to practice in a limited fashion on both Thursday and Friday but running routes and catching a few passes is not a typical indication that a player will be removed from the protocol in time for a Sunday game.
The usual rule -- although it's not a hard and fast one to the independent neurologists who are the final hurdle in the protocol -- is that one needs to tolerate a full practice. That window is already shut for Ertz because Saturday is nothing more then a walk-through day.
Dr. David Chao, a former team physician for the San Diego Chargers, also mentions location could also be a problem for Philadelphia theorizing that even gaining access to an independent neurologist might be difficult.
The Eagles, however, have been one of the best prepared teams in the business and likely already have their ducks in a row with things like that.
Along with Ertz, middle linebacker Joe Walker was also listed as questionable with the stinger he suffered against Chicago a couple of weeks ago.
Walker, however, was able to practice fully on Thursday and Friday, meaning his status is trending upward.
If Ertz is unable to go, Trey Burton, a Carson Wentz favorite himself, will take on a larger role while Najee Goode is next up at the Mike spot of Walker suffers a setback.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen