Bulked-Up Joe Ostman is Ready to Compete
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Joe Ostman has hardly made it but the 2018 Eagles scout-team star seems to have a clear path to a 53-man roster spot in his second professional season.
Although Chris Long has not formally retired and still has a locker stall at the NovaCare Complex, the 34-year-old two-time Super Bowl winner has told the Eagles to proceed like he will not be back for the 2019 campaign.
Part of replacing Long from Philadelphia's standpoint was encouraging Ostman, who helped Lane Johnson, Jason Peters and Jason Kelce prepare last season by mimicking players like Khalil Mack, Cam Jordon and Aaron Donald in practice, further develop his body.
“It helped me a lot studying those guys throughout the season,” Ostman explained. “I was able to see how the best in the game succeed every Sunday, so just kind of helped getting an understanding of what they do and why they do their counter moves and their main moves."
An undersized, productive pass rusher in college at Central Michigan, Ostman is generously listed as 6-foot-3. The same could be true of the 260 pounds he's carrying, according to the media guide, but that part of the equation is now true after Ostman put on about pounds in the offseason, something executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman noted recently.
"When you look at the transition he’s made with his body just in the offseason. I know a lot of the coaching staff is excited to see him in his second year,” Roseman said.
Ostman said the goal of the added weight while keeping as much of his quickness and speed as possible was mutual.
“They (the Eagles) raised my goal weight to seven to 10 pounds after last season,” Ostman explained. “I kind of knew that, too, looking around at the guys. They were a little bit bigger than me, so I knew that was something I had to get done in this offseason. That was the main goal, to get bigger, but also without losing any flexibility and speed in the process. I’m still working on it, but I’m happy right now sitting around 260 and I feel good out there.”
From a technique standpoint, the next step is developing that counter move all young pass rushers need.
"You can't just run around people at this level," he joked.
That second year for Ostman began Friday at Philadelphia's rookie camp, something he was eligible for because he did not spend any time on the 53-man roster as a rookie.
“This is my second year now and I do feel a lot more comfortable," Ostman said. "I know with that comes a little higher expectation. I have to go out there and make plays. But really all I’m focusing on is working as hard as I can and trying to be as prepared as I can. You go out there to play hard and let the rest fall into place.”
Early in the process, the Eagles have penciled in Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett as starters at defensive end with the returning Vinny Curry as the top backup.
From there plenty of options with better pedigrees and measurables than Ostman are around like Josh Sweat and Shareef Miller, fourth-round picks over the past two years, and Daeshon Hall, the rangy player who was once a third-round pick in Carolina.
Without Long and Michael Bennett, who was traded to New England, there is an opportunity for all the young players, however.
“That’s just part of the NFL, there’s a lot of turnover, but whoever is going to be out there, it’s going to be a competition," Ostman insisted. "We’re going to be competing every day. That’s just the way it is at this level. All I can really focus on is putting my best product out there and getting myself as ready as I can be."
The right people, whether it's Roseman, coach Doug Pederson and coordinators Mike Groh and Jim Schwartz are noticing that.
“I appreciate that because they don’t have to do that," Ostman said of being singled out by the Eagles' brass. "They could easily not mention any of that, so I appreciate that. But I’m just going to continue to work hard and let the rests take care of itself."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen