Edwards is Ready for Increased Role at LB
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Undrafted rookie linebacker T.J. Edwards got his NFL feet wet in with a couple of reps against the New York Jets and then stepped into the pool with 14 snaps against the Minnesota Vikings last week.
With Nigel Bradham missing his second consecutive practice on Thursday with an ankle injury suffered against the Vikings and Zach Brown now on the unemployment line, Edwards may get thrown into the deep end of that pool against Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.
The 6-foot-1, 242-pound University of Wisconsin product could be in line to start against the Cowboys.
“I’ve kind of learned that this is how the business works,” Edwards said at his locker after practice on Wednesday. “You never really know what’s going to happen, so you have to be prepared at all times to fill a role.”
You can bet on the Eagles nickel LBs being Nate Gerry and Kamu Grugier-Hill against the Cowboys with Edwards likely the third option in the base defense. Gerry will call the defensive signals and with Elliott being the foundation of what the Dallas offense is built upon, the base personnel group may be busier this week just like it was in Minnesota before Brown was unceremoniously dumped a day later.
In his limited work against the Vikings, Edwards produced four tackles against a solid running game featuring a star in Dalvin Cook and an up-and-comer in Alexander Mattison.
“Just getting out there with meaningful time, with live bullets, and just seeing it all happen really, it was good to get back out there,” Edwards explained.
Jim Schwartz was impressed by the production despite limited practice time.
“It is a tough situation when you go out there due to injury, particularly being a young player because you have no practice reps,” the defensive coordinator explained. “But [Edwards] was up to the task.”
An Illinois native who grew up idolizing Hall of Fame Mike LB Brian Urlacher, Edwards also may have opened some eyes for an Eagles team looking for greater production from the LB position.
"[The release of Brown] gives us an opportunity now to get some young guys on the roster, give [LB] T.J. [Edwards] an opportunity," head coach Doug Pederson said.
Edwards had a very accomplished college career with the Badgers, starting 52 games and piling up nearly 400 tackles, top-10 all-time production for a storied program in the Big Ten. He went undrafted as a traditional LB in a modern era where pass coverage is often more valuable that the ability to go downhill and thump.
Edwards, however, already overcame that sentiment by making the Eagles and is now ready for an increased role, according to Schwartz.
“He has been physical, he has been a sure tackler, and he has been assignment sound,” the DC said. “Those are all three good things to be said about a linebacker. ... All that kid has done, when we put him in the game, is make the plays that have come to him.”
John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen