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The Latest: No visible player protests before Eagles-Falcons

September 7, 2018
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Latest on the Atlanta Falcons playing the Philadelphia Eagles in the opening game of the NFL season (all times local):

9:10 p.m.

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and defensive end Michael Bennett were on the sideline when the national anthem was played before the NFL season opener between Philadelphia and Atlanta.

Neither really demonstrated during the song Thursday night. Jenkins and Bennett regularly have either knelt or stayed off the field during "The Star-Spangled Banner" to protest social injustice and racial inequality. They have been among the most vocal protesters since then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began similar demonstrations in 2016 by kneeling during the anthem.

Jenkins stood with teammates while Bennett wandered behind them near the Eagles bench and adjusted his equipment.

No Falcons players were absent from the sideline and none has protested in the recent past.

The anthem has been a particularly thorny issue for the NFL, especially with President Donald Trump urging owners to bench or fire players who demonstrate. Players say their message has been misconstrued into something against the American flag or the military.

The league and players union still haven't resolved whether players will be punished this season if they choose to kneel or demonstrate during the anthem. Owners approved a policy requiring players to stand if they are on the sideline during "The Star-Spangled Banner," allowing them to stay off the field if they wish.

But the league and union put that on hold after the Miami Dolphins faced backlash for classifying the protests as conduct potentially detrimental to the team — putting players at risk of fines or suspensions.

During the game broadcast, Nike is expected to run a commercial featuring Kaepernick after making him the face of its 30th anniversary "Just Do It" campaign.

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9 p.m.

After waiting since 1960 to be called champions, the Philadelphia Eagles and their fans had to withstand a weather delay before unveiling their Super Bowl championship banner.

About 30 minutes after the scheduled kickoff, which was delayed from 8:20 p.m. until 9:05 p.m., the banner high above Lincoln Financial Field was uncovered Thursday night as the building rocked in celebration.

Fans came back from the concourses following the rain-and-lightning delay and were greeted to an on-field pep talk by former safety Brian Dawkins, resplendent in the gold Hall of Fame jacket he received last month. With owner Jeff Lurie by his side, Dawkins then led a chorus of "Fly Eagles Fly," accompanied by more than 70,000 fans.

The rendition was just as loud as after the Eagles' NFC championship victory over Minnesota in January.

Moments later, led by veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins, the Eagles ran onto the field to another rousing ovation.

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8:10 p.m.

A severe weather pattern has forced fans at Lincoln Financial Field to leave the open seats for cover before the kickoff of the NFL season opener between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles.

A message from the National Weather Service was posted on the Linc videoboard asking everyone to take cover in stadium concourses. Some fans in end zone seats ignored that, frolicking in the downpour and dancing as music blared over loudspeakers.

Rain began falling at the Linc around 8 p.m., accompanied soon after by lightning. Earlier, temperatures had reached the high 90s.

Stadium officials announced a new kickoff time of 8:55 p.m., more than 30 minutes after the game was originally scheduled.

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7:15 p.m.

Falcons long snapper Josh Harris is inactive against the Eagles, ending a streak of 103 consecutive games played.

Harris has a hip injury and missed a couple days of practice. Jeff Overbaugh was promoted from the practice squad and takes Harris' spot. Overbaugh played in three games for the Vikings, including two playoff games last season.

There were no surprises on Philadelphia's list.

Quarterback Carson Wentz and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery are the starters sitting out. Both are returning from surgery. Wide receiver Mack Hollins was placed on injured reserve with a groin injury hours before the game.

Other inactives for the Eagles: G Chance Warmack, T Jordan Mailata, OL Matt Pryor, DE Josh Sweat.

Inactive players for the Falcons: CB Isaiah Oliver, S Jordan Richards, CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, G Ben Garland, T Matt Gono, DT Justin Zimmer.

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6:35 p.m.

Carson Wentz was throwing passes on the field more than two hours before kickoff as he continues his recovery from surgery last December to repair two torn knee ligaments.

Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles will start for the defending champion Eagles on Thursday night against Atlanta. Wentz wasn't officially ruled out by coach Doug Pederson until Monday, though it was an obvious decision because he hasn't been medically cleared.

Wentz did various drills and looked sharp as he wore a brace on his left knee. It's uncertain when he'll return to the starting lineup. Foles stepped in Week 14 and helped the team win its first NFL title since 1960.

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6:10 p.m.

The last time the Eagles took the field for a game that mattered, the temperature hovered around zero in Minneapolis. It was slightly hotter in Philly on Thursday.

Like pushing 100 degrees.

The season opener between the Eagles and Falcons is going to be a heated affair, thanks to Mother Nature. About 2 1/2 hours before kickoff, it was 96 degrees (35.6 degrees Celsius) at Lincoln Financial Field — hotter than earlier in the day. Compare that with the comfort of the Super Bowl, which of course was played indoors in Minneapolis, not in the Arctic conditions outside the Vikings' home stadium.

That was the last time the Eagles had a meaningful game, beating New England for the championship.

Predictions of rain Thursday night — and probably a cooling off — certainly aren't dampening the enthusiasm for the Eagles' first home game as NFL champion since the 1961 season.

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4:45 p.m.

The NFL is opening its season by giving Philly fans one last celebration of their Super Bowl title before their team dives in to chase another.

The Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night in the first game of the regular season, eight months after the teams played a tight game in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Philadelphia will unveil its first Super Bowl banner in franchise history in front of a sellout crowd.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson says he expects both a great atmosphere and a great opponent.

The Falcons aren't trying to make up for their loss to the Eagles in January. They have a new goal — finishing the season at home in Atlanta, where the Super Bowl will be played in February.

The Eagles will be playing without quarterback Carson Wentz, who had surgery last December to repair two torn knee ligaments. Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles will start instead.

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

 
 
 

 

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