Caleb Sturgis overcomes rough debut, gives Eagles a lift

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) Caleb Sturgis would've been booted out of Philadelphia after only one game if Chip Kelly had better options.

He stuck around and has been excellent.

The Eagles signed Sturgis after Cody Parkey, a Pro Bowl kicker as a rookie last year, went on injured reserve in October. Sturgis, who spent his first two seasons in Miami, had a rough debut in Philadelphia.

He missed a 33-yard field goal and an extra point in his first game, a 23-20 loss at Washington in Week 4. But the Eagles kept him around.

''I think the state of kicking in the league right now is not very good,'' Kelly said the following day. ''In terms of what's available out there, we are going to stick with Caleb.''

Sturgis is 10 for 11 on extra points and 11 for 12 on field goals since the loss to the Redskins. He nailed a 53-yarder to give the Eagles a late lead at Dallas last week, and became the second kicker in team history to make 50-yarders in two straight games. Tom Dempsey also did it in 1971.

''The coaching staff stuck by me,'' Sturgis said. ''That was important. I never lost confidence in myself. You can't do that or you're done. But it was nice that they never lost confidence in me, either.''

The only field goal Sturgis missed since the first one was a 50-yarder against Carolina after making one from 52 earlier in the game. Long-snapper Jon Dorenbos blamed himself for that miss, saying he rushed the snap before holder Donnie Jones was ready for it.

''We've had a lot of confidence in him,'' Kelly said. ''He's really sound mechanically. When you watch kind of the kicks he has missed, there are some reasons for it like snap and hold. I think we've got that straightened out.''

Sturgis has extra motivation Sunday when the Eagles (4-4) host the Dolphins (3-5). He was drafted in the fifth round by Miami in 2013, but lost his job to rookie Andrew Franks in training camp.

''Certainly it didn't go exactly the way we wanted it here for him, but I'm not shocked that he's out there and has kind of had resurgence,'' Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell said. ''I'm happy for him. I just hope he doesn't kick well against us.''

INSIDE THE 20: Punter Donnie Jones dropped four of his five punts against Dallas inside the 20 and still had a net average of 47.2 yards. He has 14 punts inside the 20 this season and his net average of 42.8 yards is sixth-best in the league.

''That's really an unsung guy for us right now,'' Kelly said.

INJURY UPDATE: Safety Malcolm Jenkins returned to practice Thursday after missing two days because of a concussion.


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