Eagles

Bigger, stronger, former 3rd-round pick Daeshon Hall turning heads at Eagles’ training camp

Bigger, stronger, former 3rd-round pick Daeshon Hall turning heads at Eagles’ training camp

After joining the Eagles in the middle of last season, former Panthers’ third-round pick Daeshon Hall worked hard this offseason to get bigger.

Jim Schwartz noticed.

“I think you're seeing a stronger, more physical player than when he got here last year,” the defensive coordinator said.

Hall had a busy offseason working out with Donovonn Young at Nine Innovations in Houston. Coming from a 3-4 defense, Hall worked tirelessly to put on weight as he transitioned back to a 4-3 defensive end with the Eagles.

Last season, the 6-foot-6 Hall weighed under 250 pounds. Now? He’s in the 270s.

That’s a lot of time in the weight room, but it seems to be paying off. The 24-year-old filled up the stat sheet in Thursday’s preseason opener. In 43 snaps, Hall had 6 tackles, 3 TFLs, 2 QB hits, a sack and a forced fumble and played through a shoulder injury that has kept him out of practice as the start of this week.

Hall insists the shoulder injury isn’t significant and he hopes to be ready for the second preseason game in Jacksonville on Thursday. With the season-ending injury to Joe Ostman, there appears to be some opportunity with the Eagles and Hall sees it too.

The Panthers drafted Hall out of Texas A&M in the third round back in 2017 but he lasted just one year in Carolina. They cut him before the 2018 season. Last year, Hall was with the 49ers, then the Texans and then joined the Eagles in December.

It’s unusual for a team to give up on a third-round pick so early.

“It was a shock but that’s how the business works. … Just gotta go with it,” Hall said. “I accepted it. Got some more opportunities and just trying to make the most of the opportunity I have.”

Hall played in three regular season games down the stretch, picking up the first half sack of his career, and was with them for the two-game playoff run.

Now, he’s trying to make the roster after a full offseason with the Eagles, who are seeing the talent that once made Hall a third-round pick.

“I do because he’s a good rusher,” defensive line coach Phillip Daniels said. “He can get on the edge and he’s slippery. He’s physical at the point of contact. I can see what made him a third-round pick. I watched him when he was coming out and he was a good player.”

It turns out he’s still a good player. And he has a chance to stick around.



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Eagles rave about linebacker T.J. Edwards as rookie prepares for bigger role

Eagles rave about linebacker T.J. Edwards as rookie prepares for bigger role

I spent this past summer reporting and writing my “Surviving Camp” series, which follows one Eagle through training camp. This year’s subject was undrafted rookie linebacker T.J. Edwards. 

The big question was always: Will he make the team? 

Turns out I wasted my time. I should have just asked Kamu Grugier-Hill. He apparently knew the answer the whole time. 

“T.J. is a smart player. He came in and immediately we all knew he was going to be special. You can just see with his instincts that he was going to fit in and he was going to make it,” Grugier-Hill said. 

“We knew before training camp that he was going to make the team already. He was an undrafted guy and for guys like that, it’s a battle to make the team. But we could tell right away.”

Not only did the Eagles like Edwards enough to keep him around at final cuts, but they’re now ready to give him a role on defense. The Eagles cut Zach Brown on Monday and since Nigel Bradham is dealing with an ankle injury, Edwards could get a chance to play meaningful snaps this weekend. 

Against Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys in a battle for first place in the NFC East. 

Gerry said Edwards is “definitely ready” for the task. And Edwards agreed. 

“I’m definitely ready,” Edwards said. “I don’t know what that situation looks like. I’m gonna kind of leave that up to the coaches on what they want to do. Definitely ready to go in whatever spot they need me to.”

While Edwards has learned the SAM and WILL positions in the Eagles defense, he’s probably most at home in the middle. Edwards feels most comfortable at the MIKE position, where he’s played the most at every level. 

If Bradham can’t play on Sunday, there’s a good chance we could be looking at a starting linebacker unit with Grugier-Hill and Gerry at the outside ‘backer spots and Edwards in the middle of the defense. 

Of course, when defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz met with reporters earlier in the week, he wasn’t eager about divulging his defensive game plan, but admitted the release of Brown “maybe” meant an increased role for Edwards. 

“All that kid has done when we put him in the game is make the plays that have come to him,” Schwartz said. “He has been physical, he has been a sure tackler, and he has been assignment sound. Those are all three good things to be said about a linebacker.” 

Edwards said he’s now “light years” ahead of where he was in camp and is ready to take on the responsibility of his possible new role. 

What makes a good MIKE ‘backer? 

“I think communication and confidence, really,” Edwards said. “Making sure everyone is on the same page. It’s your job to connect the front end and the back end, so communication from that standpoint is the biggest thing.”

Against the Vikings, Edwards played 10 defensive snaps toward the end of the game. He played two in the previous week against the Jets. While that’s not a ton of playing time, he said those reps gave him some confidence going forward. And Grugier-Hill said, in those snaps, Edwards “was making stuff happen.” 

It seems like he’ll get even more chances to do that this weekend. 



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Eagles' Jalen Mills has had enough 'screaming and shouting at the TV'

Eagles' Jalen Mills has had enough 'screaming and shouting at the TV'

It had been 354 days. 

A few days short of a year since Jalen Mills took his white No. 31 practice jersey off the hanger, donned shoulder pads, put on his helmet and played football.

Imagine not being able to do what you love for a year?

On Wednesday, for the first time since the Eagles-Jaguars game in London last October, Mills was out there on the field with his teammates. It was only a practice and not a game — yet — but it was a huge step for the fourth-year cornerback.

It was hard, for sure,” Mills said. “I’ve played this game all my life, I’ve never had this long an injury when I’m off the field. It was hard. I was out there [at practice], high-fiving everybody, trying to bring the energy.

Mills left the Jaguars game at Wembley with a sore foot that didn't seem like a huge deal at the time.

But he missed the rest of the season, rehabbed all offseason, spent the last month and a half on the PUP list, and on Wednesday he was finally eligible to practice.

Mills has never shared what the nature of the injury was. It really doesn't matter anymore.

Went good,” he said. “It’s the first day of school. Couple things I’ve got to sharpen up on, did a little bit after practice with Jenks (Malcolm Jenkins) and Coach (Cory) Undlin, but felt good. … I don’t feel any [pain]. I’m excited as hell.

What now?

The Eagles have a 21-day window starting Wednesday during which they can either shut him down for the year or activate him onto the 53-man roster. 

Mills made it clear what his perference is.

I’m aiming for Sunday,” he said. “It’s Coach’s call if I’m playing and how much I’m playing, but my mindset is always that I’m going to play. … At this point right now the mindset is playing the whole game.

That’s not going to happen. Even if Mills is activated and plays Sunday in Dallas, he’s not going to play a ton of snaps.

But he can help.

He hasn’t been totally healthy since the Super Bowl season or early last year — he won’t say — but when he’s on he’s a very good red-zone corner and considering the Eagles’ cornerback play of late, it can’t hurt getting him on the field ASAP.

Just being an addition to the secondary, being the competitor I am, knowing that I feel like I can make certain plays out there to help this team win, to help the secondary play better

Mills said he’s been running regularly with strength and conditioning coach Josh Hingst, and he said his conditioning was fine during practice.

But he knows there’s no way to prepare for football without playing football.

There’s no simulation for it,” he said. “You just gotta go out there and do it. You can run as many 110s, as many sprints as you want. At the end of the day, football conditioning’s football conditioning.

After playing 42 of a possible 43 games from the start of his rookie year through last October, he’s missed 16 games in a row.

Mills said the most challenging part of the last year has been game day, which he usually spends “screaming and shouting at the TV.”

That’s exactly the same thing most Eagles fans have been doing lately while watching the Eagles’ cornerbacks.

How much help Mills can provide remains to be seen. But for this team? Right now? 

Having a healthy, confident veteran who started on a Super Bowl team can only be a positive.

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