Fletcher Cox popped up on Wednesday’s injury report with an ankle injury and has played an incredible 86 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps through four games this season.
Cox played over 50 snaps just five times all last regular season. He’s already done that three times in four games in 2018.
Cox has been playing at an extremely high level — a Defensive Player of the Year-type level — but at this rate, it’s fair to wonder if the Eagles are going to burn him out before the playoffs even get here.
Enter Treyvon Hester.
It might seem like a stretch to think a relatively unknown player who has been with the team for just three weeks could help Cox maintain his high level of play, but hear me out.
Hester, 26, joined the Eagles’ practice squad on Sept. 7 but was bumped up to the active roster Tuesday, replacing fellow defensive tackle Bruce Hector. Hector, the undrafted rookie out of USF, was active for all four games to start the season but got just 18 defensive snaps. Despite winning a roster spot out of camp, the Eagles clearly didn’t trust Hector enough to put him out there.
And it stands to reason that there’s no way they promote Hester to the active roster if they don’t think he can play more and have more of an impact on the roster.
That means instead of a three-man rotation at DT (not including DEs who move inside), the Eagles would have four guys they trust. That might mean fewer snaps for Cox right now, but it could keep him fresh, healthy and even more impactful in those snaps.
“I just want to be able to do my part, whatever that is,” Hester said. “Whatever my role is, I’m going to accept that wholeheartedly and I’m behind these boys all day, every day.”
Hester was a seventh-round pick out of Toledo last year and spent his rookie season with Oakland. He played in 14 games and had one start, so he has some NFL experience, at least more than Hector, whom he replaced.
Since Eagles fans are going to be very unfamiliar with Hester, I asked him to describe himself as a player.
“That’s a good question,” Hester said. “I would like to let the tape talk for itself. When I get out there and be able to show my skill set. This is a nice, rugged city. I’m not too far away from here (Pittsburgh), so I know what kind of football town this is and how they bleed football. It shouldn’t be too hard for me to adapt.”
In 2016 at Toledo, Hester put up big numbers, piling up 39 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and a forced fumble.
Here’s what NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein said about Hester when he entered the draft last spring:
“Three-technique with good size and quickness, Hester plays with active hands and he has a shot to become a disruptive, rotational defensive tackle if he can continue to improve at the point of attack.”
The Eagles don’t need Hester to be a star. They just need him to be able to play a little bit to increase the rotation at defensive tackle. If he does, it could help.