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5 Things To Know Today: December 20

Posted Dec 20, 2013

It's a Friday edition of 5 Things To Know Today. We've spent the week previewing Sunday night's matchup with the Bears. Here, we go around the locker room to get a different take on the matchup. Yes, there's still football analysis to highlight, but there's also advice regarding how to wrestle bears and who can eat the most wings on the team ...

1. LANE JOHNSON EXPLAINS HOW TO WRESTLE BEARS

Just before the 2013 NFL Draft, news broke that top prospect Lane Johnson had experience wrestling with Bears. After he was selected by the Eagles with the fourth-overall pick, Johnson fielded follow-up questions at his introductory press conference. A story like that doesn’t just slip through the cracks.

The barely believable story was almost too surprising to be true, and as it turned out, it wasn’t. Johnson later cleared the air and bared the truth about the situation, saying that he wanted to have some fun with the Philadelphia media.

We may never know the true story behind Johnson’s past as a bear wrestler, but perhaps some things need to remain a mystery. Now, almost eight months later, Johnson will get to wrestle with the Chicago Bears, and you can imagine his excitement.

“It was a fictitious unfortunately, but the idea is still there,” said Johnson. “I’m going to be wrestling some Bears come Sunday night though.”

Johnson had previously stated that he wrestled smaller, punier black bears and that he stayed away from grizzles. Say what you will about the Eagles starting right tackle, but he knows his limits. He also knows a lot about the bear population in Chicago, as it turns out.

“The Chicago bear averages from 300-500 pounds, and some of the defensive linemen are about that size, so it’s looking pretty similar,” Johnson said with an expert tone. “You’ve got to use your hands against those big claws that they’ve got.”

If it is true that Johnson wrestled bears on his uncle’s East Texas ranch, all of the years he spent training will culminate on Sunday night. Johnson will have to bear down and put his emotions aside.

2. WHO WOULD WIN AN EAGLES WING BOWL?

On Thursday afternoon, safety Earl Wolff took a seat on the floor of the Eagles locker room and popped open a large tin of popcorn. Someone asked the Eagles rookie if he could eat the entire tin, and that is when the conversation turned.

“Maybe if it was wings,” said Wolff. “Wings are my favorite food, by far.”

Wolff wasn’t kidding. Wolff has been spotted loading up a to-go container on days when wings are served in the cafeteria.

Wolff has played very well in his rookie season, and some people might even say that he is the perfect fit for the Eagles defense. As it turns out, Philadelphia might be a great fit off of the field as well for the North Carolina State product. The Wing Bowl has been an annual event in the City of Brotherly Love since 1993, but because Wolff is new to the city, he was unaware of the wing eating contest.

“I can do that,” Wolff said confidently. “How many wings do they eat? The most I’ve ever eaten at one time is 50 wings. In how much time? In no time. I don’t play games. If I’m going against anybody on the team, for real, I guarantee I win.”

After hearing a conservative estimate of 200 (137 behind the current Wing Bowl record, set by Takeru Kobayashi in 2012), Wolff’s confidence was shaken.

“I don’t do that,” Wolff said, shaking his head.

Wolff tried turning to his teammates to support his claim as being a great eater, but no one seemed to hear Wolff’s cries.

“Ask Coop how much I eat,” Wolff said, pointing to Riley Cooper. “You can ask Nick (Foles). Hey Nick, how much can I eat?”

Though no teammates could back his claim, Wolff explained that he hit his favorite wing establishment more than a few times when he went back home during the Eagles bye week. But aren’t the Eagles all about having a strict diet?

“You’ve got to run a couple extra miles,” Wolff said laughing.

3. EXACTLY HOW IS IT PRONOUNCED?

Nobody knows exactly the proper way to pronounce Allen Barbre’s last name. Is it “Barber?” “Barbray?” “Barbree?” In Training Camp, the sports information director of Missouri Southern State University, Barbre’s alma mater, e-mailed the Eagles after he heard the surname pronounced as “Barbray” to let us know that it was actually “Barber,” or so that’s how it was in college.

When finally asked about the issue, Barbre himself had an interesting answer.

“I don’t really care, honestly,” he said. “They’re all fine, but I guess ‘Barbree’ is technically right.”

Well, then.

Barbre revealed that growing up, his last name was always pronounced “Barber.” Then, after doing some digging and finding out certain aspects of his family history, he realized the surname was of French origin and used to be spelled “Barbry” before one of his ancestors changed it. Barbre started going by “Barbree,” but he still had people calling him “Barber” and “Barbray” and got tired of making the correction all the time.

So, “Barbree,” “Barbray,” “Barber,” whatever. Just know that while “Barbree” is right, Allen’s a nice enough guy that he will still respond to any of the three.

4. FOLES SMILES AT THOUGHT OF McCOY TAKING OVER

Running back LeSean McCoy said on Wednesday that wants to put the offense on his back. Two games ago, McCoy set the Eagles' single-game record with 217 rushing yards in the Snow Bowl win over Detroit. Last week, the Vikings' stout defense combined with a double-digit-point deficit led to a quiet game for McCoy, who had a season-low 38 yards on just eight carries.

Quarterback Nick Foles responded on Thursday with a smile.

"He has a lot of heart. He runs hard. He's a tremendous player," Foles said. "You've seen what he's done all season. You all saw what he did against Detroit."

McCoy certainly has reason to be excited to against the Chicago Bears, who are last in the league in rushing yards allowed per game and rushing yards allowed per carry. Foles noted that to help McCoy out he must complete some passes.

"They complement each other," Foles said.

5. TOXIC DIFFERENTIAL HEALTHY FOR EAGLES

Former NFL head coach and current NFL on FOX analyst Brian Billick coined the stat toxic differential because he believed that it was not only important to win the turnover battle, but teams must generate big plays as well.

The toxic differential formula is simple. Add the turnover differential and the big-play differential (big plays are of 20 yards or more) together. Where do the Eagles rank? The Eagles are second in the NFL with a 44 toxic differential, just second behind the Seattle Seahawks who have a 60.

How should the stat be valued? The top five teams and nine of the top 10 teams in turnover differential are either currently in the playoffs or are still very much in the hunt.

The Eagles have a 9 turnover differential, which ranks seventh in the league. Philadelphia is second in the league with a 35 big-play differential.

This week's opponent, the Chicago Bears, are 24th with a -9 turnover differential. The issue for the Bears isn't turnovers ( 6), it's a -15 big-play differential.

Last year, the Eagles ranked 28th in the NFL with a -35 toxic differential.

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