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Philadelphia Eagles gear up for new NFL season with questions marks over starting quarterback

Sky Sports | Updated: 2018-09-06 14:15:19

Sky Sports News reporter Richard Graves takes a look at 2018 Super Bowl champions Philadelphia Eagles as they prepare to begin the defence of their title...

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Never before in the Super Bowl era has the city of Philadelphia been able to call its Eagles, world champions. That all changed last February in sub-zero Minnesota, when a team, led by a back-up quarterback, snatched the limelight from Tom Brady and shocked the hot favourite, New England Patriots. Nick Foles was named the MVP of Super Bowl LII and the Philadelphia Eagles claimed their first Vince Lombardi trophy.

On Thursday night, the defending champions will open the new season in front of a jam-packed Lincoln Financial Field. The Championship banner will be unfurled and a rabid Eagles fan base will be desperate for them to do it all over again.

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Everywhere you go in Philadelphia, there's an undeniable pride in this city. From the huge bronze sculptures around City Hall, paying tribute to America's founding fathers and the integral role Philadelphia played in the country's history, to the statue of Rocky - Philadelphia's fictional fighting champion - and the numerous tourist hotspots made famous by Hollywood.

The murals painted on the side ordinary buildings heralding the Eagles' Super Bowl success and, of course, great pride in perhaps the city's best-known delicacy, the Philly Cheesesteak. No need for a Super Bowl special here, as I was clearly told - "a Philly cheesesteak, is a Philly cheesesteak!"

Philadelphians are truly passionate about Philadelphia but scratch the surface and an opinion is never too far away. Perhaps the hottest of those right now, the debate of who should be the Eagles' starting quarterback in week one. Nick Foles? The Super Bowl MVP, who stepped in to such stunning effect when Carson Wentz tore his ACL last December. Or should Carson Wentz be thrown straight back into the line-up? After all, his stated aim was to be fit to play week one. He's taking part in all of the team's practice drills but, as head coach Doug Pederson told the media this week, "as of right now, he's not medically cleared to play"

Why is this such an issue then? Well, Nick Foles hasn't been playing in pre-season like the Nick Foles who led the Super Bowl-winning charge. Instead Nick Foles has been inaccurate, he's been turnover prone and there's an unmistakable feeling that the Eagles just want to give Wentz more time to recover. This is a passionate city and it's a debate which has turned up the heat on the head coach to such an extent that he actually apologised to the media on Tuesday for the tone of his responses to questions on the issue! That being said, Foles starts against the Falcons.

Passion is a double-edged sword. It can give rise to love and hate in equal measure and in Philadelphia, the Eagles fans love the feeling of being champions. They hate the idea that someone may take that away! So on Thursday night, expect passion, expect excitement and when the Atlanta Falcons come into town, expect this city to put on a show! The new NFL season is upon us!

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