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Sacks in 3 seasons for 2014 1st-round pick Marcus Smith, cut by Eagles on Wednesday

Dez Bryant catches three touchdown passes as the Cowboys take sole possession of first place in the NFC East with a 38-27 victory over the Eagles, who now need help from other teams to qualify for the playoffs.

After his game-winning hit Sunday against the Mets, Ryan Howard said the Phillies are headed in the right direction, but Eric Fisher says if The Big Piece is correct, it’s only because they’re so bad that they have nowhere to go except up. Eric also reviews Charlie Manuel’s induction into the Phillies Wall of Fame, questions why older players are starting late in the season and wonders if a Phillies pitcher will win 10 games.

Eric Fisher’s weekly column on a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on the “struggling” 4-1 Eagles, the start of hockey season and the Union’s playoff chances.

First-and-10

A quick look at 10 sports stories in the news…  

1. Kendricks asked to be traded LB Mychal Kendricks, who played just 27 percent of defensive snaps last season, says he asked Eagles management to trade him or release him after last season. Kendricks is on roster and appears in line for starting role. He could also be insurance in case LB Nigel Bradham suspended for off-field run-ins with the law.

2. Changing of the guard Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich says second-year pro Isaac Seumalo is starting left guard; team trades 10-year veteran Allen Barbre, former starter at left guard, to Broncos for conditional 2019 draft pick. Barbre would have counted $2.1 million against salary cap. Stefen Wisniewski, Chance Warmack also competing for roster spots, playing time at guard.

3. Eagles release Marcus Smith Eagles release defensive end Marcus Smith, their 1st-round pick in 2014 NFL Draft. Eagles selected Smith 26th overall after trading down from No. 22. Smith finishes 3-year Eagles career with 4 sacks, 24 tackles and 0 starts. Smith did not attend OTAs this year. By cutting Smith, Eagles save $1.48 million in salary cap space. Eagles re-sign LB Steven Daniels. Smith signs 3-year contract with Seahawks.

4. Eagles training camp begins Eagles open training camp with rookies, QBs and select veterans. First practice was Monday. First full squad practice is today. First practice open to public is Saturday (10 a.m.) at Lincoln Financial Field. Eagles release CB Dwayne Gratz, place DT Beau Allen (pectoral), rookie CB Sidney Jones (Achilles tendon) on active/non-football injury list. Neither is expected to be ready during training camp, although they could be activated if cleared to play. Eagles sign Canadian rugby star Adam Zaruba (6-5, 265), who hasn’t played competitive football since high school. Dane Evans, undrafted free agent from Tulsa, as 4th QB.

5. Phillies trade Neshek to Rockies Phillies trade reliever Pat Neshek to Rockies, who occupy 2nd wild card spot in National League, for 3 Class A prospects. Neshek, the best of GM Matt Klentak’s offseason acquisitions, had 1.12 ERA in 40 1/3 innings, giving up runs in just 2 of his appearances. He struck out 45 and allowed walked 5. In return, Phillies receive shortstop Jose Gomez, starting pitcher Alejandro Requena, reliever J.D. Hammer. All excelled with Class A Asheville this season, with Hammer being promoted Rockies’ higher Class A-level team in June. Non-waiver trade deadline is Monday.

6. Nola, Phillies shut down Astros Aaron Nola strikes out 10 in 6 shutout innings as Phillies avoid sweep by posting 9-0 triumph over visiting Astros. Nola (8-6) is 5-1 with 1.49 ERA in his last 7 starts. Cameron Rupp powers offense with pair of 2-run homers. Maikel Franco also homers. Tommy Joseph delivers 3 hits, including pair of doubles, and 2 RBI. Howie Kendrick, a prime candidate to be traded before Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, leaves game with sore left hand after being hit by pitch. Phillies off Thursday, open 4-game series with visiting Braves tonight (7 p.m.).

7. Mackanin yanks Herrera After Odubel Herrera doesn’t run out dropped third strike, manager Pete Mackanin removes him from Tuesday’s 5-0 loss to Astros as part of double switch. Herrera also didn’t run hard, and did his “bat flip,” on fly ball to center field that was caught at wall. Herrera has history of not hustling and disregarding instructions on bases, but he has been among team’s best hitters and is only Phillie signed to long-term contract. Herrera replaced in center field in Wednesday’s lineup by Aaron Altherr, who comes off disabled list (hamstring). Daniel Nava, a veteran who could have trade value before Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, goes on DL with hamstring injury to make room for Altherr on roster.

8. U.S. strikes gold; Blake injured Jordan Morris scores in 88th minute to lift U.S. past Jamaica, 2-1, in championship game of CONCACAF Gold Cup at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Jozy Altidore gives U.S. lead at end of 1st half, but Jamaica scores early in 2nd half to tie score. Union goalie Andre Blake, star of Jamaica’s run to final, leaves game with hand or finger injury after making spectacular save on Altidore and rebound attempt.

9. Sapong, Union avenge loss C.J. Sapong scores career-high 10th goal, sets up 2 others as Union avenge loss at Columbus last Saturday with 3-0 victory in 2nd half of home-and-home series. Victory  brings Union (7-9-5) within reasonable distance of Columbus (10-11-1), which occupies final playoff position in Eastern Conference. Ilsinho start scoring. Marcus Epps scores his 1st MLS goal in 81st minute. Crew played more than half the game shorthanded due to red cards, finishing the game with 9 players. Union visit New England on Saturday (7:30 p.m.).

10. Streaky Freedoms lose to Lasers Freedoms win all 3 doubles matches, but lose both singles matches in convincing fashion during 22-18 loss to visiting Springfield. After losing first 2 games of season and then winning 4 straight, Freedoms lose 3rd straight match. Freedoms host Orange County (Calif.) on Friday (7 p.m.) at Saint Joseph’s Hagan Arena.

(To listen to past PhillyPhanatics.com’s Blog Talk Radio shows, please click here.)

LOCAL SCHEDULE

Monday
Astros 13, Phillies 4
Washington 20, Freedoms 15

Tuesday
Astros 5, Phillies 0
New York 25, Freedoms 18

Wednesday
Phillies 9, Astros 0
Springfield 22, Freedoms 18
Union 3, Columbus 0
CONCACAF Gold Cup
Finals

U.S. 2, Jamaica 1

Thursday
No games scheduled

Friday
Braves at Phillies, 7 p.m.
Orange County (Calif.) at Freedoms, 7 p.m.

Saturday
Braves at Phillies, 7 p.m.
Soul at Baltimore, 1 p.m.
San Diego at Freedoms, 7 p.m.
Union at New England, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday
Braves at Phillies, 1:30 p.m.
Freedoms at Springfield, 7 p.m.

FOR LEAGUE-WIDE SCORES AND STANDINGS, CLICK ON THE LINKS UNDER THE “STANDINGS” HEADING IN THE SIDEBAR TO THE RIGHT, OR IN THE HEADING AT THE UPPER-RIGHT OF THIS PAGE

Training camp preview: Battling for position

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Phillies Notebook

Jeremy Hellickson and reliever Pat Neshek are among the veterans likely to be traded, but don’t expect the Phillies to receive very much in return. Eric Fisher also examines Odubel Herrera’s latest failure to hustle, Nick Williams’ strong start and how old trades haunted the Phillies this past week.

Fish ‘n Chips

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Phils’ in-season trades

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July - 13 - 2017 Reporter: Eric Fisher Respond

With the worst record in baseball at the All-Star break, it’s not surprising that the Phillies’ mid-term grades aren’t very good. There are only two A’s and a whole bunch of failing grades. Check out Eric Fisher’s mid-term grades. Is he too easy or too harsh?

Unlucky in Vegas: Fultz injures ankle

July - 9 - 2017 Reporter: Eric Fisher Respond

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Heel Turns: WWE catches ‘Fire’

July - 8 - 2017 Reporter: Achilles Heel Respond

The Greek God of Wrestling says that WWE’s “Great Balls of Fire,” headlined by Brock Lesnar defending the WWE Universal Championship against Samoa Joe, should be a terrific event. Achilles Heel also reveals who beat Kevin Owens for the United States Championship at a house show, the “impact” of the Slammiversary results, and congratulates Cody Rhodes on winning the Ring of Honor World Championship.

Phillies are free fallin’

July - 7 - 2017 Reporter: Eric Fisher Respond

With the Phillies having the worst record in the major leagues and playing historically bad baseball, and with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in town last weekend, Eric Fisher provides an updated version of an old column about how the Phillies are free fallin’.

Fish ‘n Chips

July - 5 - 2017 Reporter: Eric Fisher Respond

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Pirates' Jose Osuna throws out 3 Phillies