By Mary Cunningham
Memories of last year’s 27-0 Eagles beatdown of the New York Giants at the Linc will resonate Monday night when the reunion of NFC rivals gets going.
Only the strong survive.
And that’s right in Ereck Flowers’ wheelhouse.
It helps that he’s 6-foot-6, 329-pounds offensive lineman. But this isn’t a rookie who scares easy.
Linebacker Devon Kennard was a rookie out of USC last season, and he wasn’t fazed by the Linc.
“The fans are rowdy, and they’re not nice, and they don’t like us,” Kennard said with a smile. “So it’s just a fun place to play. It kind of reminds me of a college feel.”
Kennard said he thinks Flowers will blossom in such an environment
“I think he’ll thrive,” Kennard said. “Ereck’s a competitor. He’s a beast. He has all the ability in the world, and the tenacity to go with it.
“I’m glad he’s on my team.”
Right tackle Marshall Newhouse depicts young Flowers as an even-keeled Terminator.
“Just him wanting to finish guys,” Newhouse said. “Him wanting to be a jerk out there. That’s what being a lineman in the NFL’s about, at the end of the day. So just having that physicality about him and that finish mentality, he’s got it, for sure.”
Center Weston Richburg was a rookie at the Linc last October.
“Pretty hostile,” Richburg said. “It wasn’t anybody kind of trying to harm us or anything, but you’re getting flipped the bird. But that’s expected. It’s a pretty intense divisional rivalry.”
He isn’t worried about Flowers.
“He’s got a good attitude for games like this,” Richburg said. “He’s gonna keep his cool, and be able to handle whatever comes at him.”
Flowers talks softly, but carries a big lick.
“He’s been able to get under some guys’ skin a couple of games — I know Dallas, he got under some guy’s skin, and he just keeps his cool, which is good to see younger guys keeping their cool in situations like that,” Richburg said.
How does he get under their skin?
“He plays through the whistle,” Richburg said. “He’s a guy that’s gonna give high effort, and that may get on some guys’ nerves sometimes.”
Eli Manning doesn’t mind having a bodyguard left tackle like this one bit.
“It doesn’t seem too big for him,” Manning said. “He’s been banged up a little bit and shown toughness, wants to be out there. Been impressed with just how quickly he just knows everything that’s going on, and knowing his assignments.”
No one epitomizes talk-is-cheap-play-the-game more than Flowers — the strong, silent type.
“He’s quiet, he doesn’t say much,” Manning said, “but he’s competing out there. He has an intensity to him, you can see that, determination, he’s ready to go.”
The atmosphere won’t bother him?
“I don’t think so,” Manning said. “I don’t think it’s too much, or anything going on is gonna get him rattled.”
Manning took his first regular-season snap in garbage time in Philly in 2004.
“I remember my first play, I handed it off to Tiki Barber, he went about 75 [yards] for a touchdown. … I said, ‘This is easy,’ ” Manning recalled, and smiled. “And then I took the biggest hit of my life [from Jerome McDougle] on the last play. It was my welcome-to-the-NFL hit, for sure.”
Odell Beckham Jr. recalled his introduction to Eagles fans last season.
“Treated you like royalty,” he cracked. “The fans cheer, the fans yell. Either way it goes it’s all noise. You just block it out and play football.”
Flowers has heard plenty about the Giants-Eagles rivalry.
“It’s a division game. Those are the biggest games of the year,” Flowers said. “I like all games.”
But is he OK dealing with the hostile crowd?
“That’s fine,” Flowers said.
Nothing scares Flowers, does it?
“Oh, nah, nah … besides losing,” he said, and chuckled.