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Eagles notebook: A.J. Brown dealt with stomach bug on Thanksgiving

Digital Brief: Nov. 25, 2022 (AM)
Digital Brief: Nov. 25, 2022 (AM) 02:11

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Most people across the United States pigged out on Thanksgiving and enjoyed time with their family, but it was a different story for A.J. Brown. 

The Eagles' star wideout told reporters after practice on Friday that he spent the whole holiday in bed due to a stomach bug. 

Brown missed practice with the illness on Thursday, but he was a full participant on Friday ahead of the Eagles' matchup against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. 

Head coach Nick Sirianni said that Brown is "fine" and "he'll be ready to go" versus the Packers.

Brown and fellow wideout DeVonta Smith could be in for a big performance against a Packers defense that's allowed at least one opposing receiver to go over 100 yards in three of their last five games. 

Brown leads the Eagles in receiving with 49 catches for 785 yards and six touchdowns.

Will the Eagles be ready for the desperate Packers?  

Last season, the Eagles started 3-6 before winning six of their final nine games to make the playoffs. An easy schedule and weak NFC East helped, but the Eagles retooled their offense to a more run-heavy approach around quarterback Jalen Hurts that played to their strengths. 

The Packers, who sit at 4-7, are in a similar situation – they basically have to win out like the Eagles did if they want any chance to make the playoffs. 

With the Packers desperate for a win, does that change the way the Eagles prepare or approach this game? 

"No, not at all," Sirianni said. "We have to go through our process the way we would no matter what the situation, 0-0, 1-0, 2-0. That was our process last year. I think that's one of the best things I learned from last year is that you've just got to scratch and claw and nail to go 1-0 this week."

Coach speak or not, the process worked for the Eagles, and it's continued to work for them this season as they sit with the NFL's best record at 9-1. 

A familiar foe

Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon is a lightning rod for criticism in Delaware Valley, but his defense played a huge role in the Eagles' 17-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts last week. Plus, his unit ranks first in the league in takeaways, second in yards allowed and sixth in points allowed. 

And against the Packers, he'll face a familiar opponent in future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers. 

Before Gannon was hired from the Colts to become the Eagles' defensive coordinator, he was with the Minnesota Vikings from 2014-17 as an assistant defensive backs coach, spending two games per season preparing for Rodgers. 

Gannon had high praise for Rodgers in his press conference earlier this week. 

"He's a special player," Gannon said. "That's all there is to it. He's going to the Hall of Fame. He's one of the best that's ever done it. He can beat you a lot of different ways, so we're going to have to be on it. But I have obviously a high respect for him because of watching him through the years and playing against him. He does things that other guys can't do."

Even though Rodgers, who's won the MVP the past two seasons, will end up in Canton, Ohio, his play hasn't resembled that this season. 

The Packers currently sit in third in the NFC North, a division they've dominated with Rodgers at quarterback. 

Rodgers' completion percentage is also down a tick compared to his previous seasons, he's thrown seven interceptions for the first time since 2016 and he's apparently played through a broken thumb in his throwing hand over the last several weeks. 

Despite his poor play this season, Rodgers has developed a solid connection with rookie wideout Christian Watson over the past couple weeks. Watson has hauled in five touchdowns on eight catches for 155 yards. 

Gannon said in order to prepare for wideouts, especially rookies, he'll chat with offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead to get a scouting report. 

"Big challenge coming in this week with Green Bay and A-Rod and we'll be excited to play on Sunday Night Football," Gannon said. 

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