Eagles ‘Need’ Their New DTs
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Merrill Reese stopped by Jim Schwartz's weekly media briefing earlier this week to talk about the new defensive tackles in Philadelphia.
"You picked up a couple of defensive tackles in the past day. How long will it take them to be ready to actually play?" the venerable voice of the Eagles asked.
Perhaps fed up with the attrition that has cost him Plans A, B, C and even D next to Fletcher Cox, the embattled defensive coordinator, known for an occasional filibuster or two, went short and sweet.
"Well, it's going to have to be quick," Schwartz said.
Entering practice on Thursday the Eagles have three healthy defensive tackles on the roster: Cox, and recent practice-squad signees Anthony Rush (from the Raiders) and Albert Huggins (from the Texans).
“I just got to be mentally strong about it and knowing that whoever they bring in that the team trusts whoever they're bringing in and I have to trust that guy,” Cox explained at his locker after practice on Wednesday, the same day news broke of an ugly incident in which someone tried to break into his South Jessey home last week.
Coaches will tell you injuries are just part of the deal in the NFL but when they occur at the same position that's when things can go off the rails.
Inside on the engine of his defense, Schwartz has already lost Malik Jackson for the season with a Lisfranc injury in the season-opener, Tim Jernigan for a significant period with a broken foot, and now Hassan Ridgeway to an ankle injury Sunday night against the Cowboys which put him on injured reserve by Wednesday. No. 4, Akeem Spence, was released Monday after the Dallas offensive line had him on skates for much of the night in North Texas.
Enter Rush, a 350-pound run-stuffer who was part of the Eagles offseason before being released and landing in Oakland, along with Huggins, a down-to-earth Clemson product excited for an opportunity to make his parents proud.
“I know the playbook and I’ll be ready for this week [against Buffalo],” Rush said. “When you’re bringing another guy in you got to think about alright, well I got to teach them this, teach them that, so they brought me in because I know the playbook.”
Huggins doesn't have that same luxury but playing on one of the most talented college fronts for years was enough for Philadelphia to want to get into business with him.
“It made me better," Huggins said when discussing his time at Clemson. "It made me a strong competitor. there was a bunch of competition in the room and you had to be on top of your stuff every day. If you weren't, you were going to get left behind.”
Cox, meanwhile, is trying to be a leader for the new teammates he and the Eagles need.
“I got to go out and just trust myself, that’s the biggest thing,” the All-Pro said. “Trust myself and helping those guys get lined up. If they’ve got a question about it, I’ve been discussing it all day with them, if you got a question, don’t be scared to ask me because right now we need you, I need you, this team needs you."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen