Younger Eagles eager to make playoff debuts

Philadelphia Eagles rookie Bennie Logan grew up in Louisiana but says he was never a fan of the New Orleans Saints. Logan will make his NFL playoff debut Saturday night when the Eagles host the Saints.

PHILADELPHIA - Eagles rookie nose tackle Bennie Logan can't wait for Saturday's playoff game against New Orleans.

Logan, the team's third-round draft pick, experienced his share of big games during his college career at Louisiana State University and played in front of rowdy fans at LSU's "Swamp."

He's excited at the prospect of enjoying the same kind of atmosphere at Lincoln Financial Field, where the Eagles will try to advance beyond the wild-card, or first, round of the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season against the Saints.

Latest Video

"I don't know what to expect, but I know it's going to be crazy there," Logan said. "I'm really looking forward to my first playoff game in the NFL, and the fact we're playing the Saints only makes it more exciting for me."

Logan, 24, grew up in Coushatta, La., a small town of fewer than 2,000 residents located about 300 miles from New Orleans in Red River Parish.

Logan said he never was much of a Saints fan, but he was in the minority. Aside from his family members, everyone else there will be rooting for Saints quarterback Drew Brees and company to beat the Eagles.

"I think they all want me to do well, but they want the Saints to win," Logan said with a laugh. "For me, I'm just focused on taking advantage of the opportunity, but also just playing my game. I've been talking to some of the veterans, and they all told me playoff games are usually won by the team that makes the fewest mistakes."

Playoff experience could also be a factor.

New Orleans features 34 players who have appeared in at least one playoff game, though only 10 players remain on the active roster from the 2009 team that won the Super Bowl. Defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley has appeared in nine career postseason contests, but none with the Saints. Bunkley was the Eagles' first-round draft pick in 2006 and played for them during the 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010 playoffs.

The Eagles have 23 players on their active roster with playoff experience, including 14 who appeared in the Eagles' last playoff game, a 21-16 loss to Green Bay on Jan. 9, 2011.

No one is left from the 2004 Philadelphia team that reached the Super Bowl. Wide receiver Jason Avant, defensive end Trent Cole, long-snapper Jon Dorenbos and guard Todd Herremans are the lone holdovers from the 2006 team that reached the postseason.

"People may not understand what I'm talking about, but until you've actually been to the playoffs, you can't explain what it's like," Cole said. "The game definitely gets faster, and the intensity level goes up. Everybody just has to keep doing what they've been doing, and they'll be fine."

There is a big discrepancy between the coaching staffs.

Saints coach Sean Payton, who grew up outside Philadelphia and coached for the Eagles in 1997-98, will be coaching his ninth playoff game with the Saints on Saturday night.

That's eight more games of NFL playoff experience than Eagles coach Chip Kelly will bring.

"The experience factor depends on who wins Saturday," Kelly said. "If we lose, we were inexperienced. If we win, then there will be another story. We are only concerned with how we prepare to play a really good Saints team, and that's all we can really be concerned with."

The Eagles have stuck to the same approach that enabled them to go10-6 and win the NFC East. Kelly adhered to the same schedule in terms of practices and meetings.

His only switch was moving practices outdoors at the NovaCare Complex to help the team get accustomed to the frigid weather that's expected at the Linc on Saturday night.

"I've played in cold weather before, and you just have to block it out of your mind," Cole said. "I remember a really cold game in Cincinnati a few years ago (in 2008), and there was one time when they opened up the tunnel at the old Giants Stadium and let the wind come through. It was so cold that day that when you spit, it froze before it hit the ground."

For tips on how to deal with postseason pressure, some players have sought out cornerback Cary Williams.

Williams, who signed with the Eagles as a free agent before the season, spent the last four seasons with Baltimore and helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl last season.

If anyone knows what it takes to succeed in the playoffs, it's him.

"I've just been telling them to keep working like they've been working and they'll be fine," Williams said. "But I really want them to understand that you can't take this opportunity for granted because you never know when it's going to come around again."

Memories of Vet

Payton knows well how rowdy Philly sports fans can be because he used to be one of them. He lived in Newtown Square, Pa, before his family moved to Chicago when he was a teenager.

"My first pro football game was at the Vet (Veterans Stadium)," Payton said Wednesday in a phone interview. "My first baseball game was at the Vet. The Flyers winning back-to-back Stanley Cups (in 1974-75), all of those things were part of my childhood.

"The sports fans are amazing there, very passionate. And they have a real die-hard fan base. That presents challenges when you play there, especially in the playoffs."

In an earlier interview, Payton recalled his excitement after the Flyers won their first Stanley Cup in 1974.

"I remember we only had a half-day of school that day," he said. "I went over to the West Chester Pike and held up a sign that said, 'Bernie Parent for Mayor.' "

Notes: Eagles rookie safety Earl Wolff (sprained knee) participated in Thursday's walk-through and said he may be able to play Saturday barring any setbacks. Backup center Julian Vandervelde (back spasms) did not practice.

Contact David Weinberg:


Recommended for you

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.