It’s not too often a 12-year-old kid has his future coach’s picture on his wall.
The newest Eagle, defensive Eli Harold, had two of them.
Harold grew up in Virginia Beach and like most of the kids in the area was a huge Redskins fan.
His favorites were defensive linemen Andre Carter, Lorenzo Alexander and Phillip Daniels.
Yes, the same Phillip Daniels that’s now the Eagles’ defensive line coach.
All those guys were on my wall, and I had met them when I was like 12 at the Virginia Beach Pavilion,” he said after practice Sunday. “Andre Carter was my assistant outside linebackers coach at San Fran for one year and I was talking to Phillip yesterday and I was like, ‘Yo, this is amazing, I’ve now played for two of my former favorite players,’ and we were rapping about Andre Carter last night.
Harold, a third-round draft pick of the 49ers in 2016, has also spent time with the Lions and Bills. The Eagles acquired him in an unusual mid-camp trade on Friday from the Bills in exchange for undrafted rookie offensive lineman Ryan Bates.
Daniels played 15 seasons in the NFL for the Seahawks, Bears and — from 2004 through 2010 — with the Redskins.
It’s just a great situation to have a guy who’s played and had success and knows all the tricks of the trade,” Harold said. “Fifteen years, that’s a long time, at a time when the NFL was a lot harder than it is now. I’m excited to play for a guy like that.
Harold has nine career sacks, including four with the Lions last year. After playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 front in his previous NFL stops, this will be his first time playing defensive end in a 4-3 since college, but the Eagles think that’s what he’s best suited for.
At 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, Harold sure looks the part.
Good body for what we are looking for,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “Our scouts liked him a couple years ago. He has had a little bit of production. He played sort of a hybrid role last year for Detroit, but we are a little bit different. Put his hand in the ground and let him come. He’s big, he’s strong and we will add him to the mix and see where it turns out, but he does have a little bit of experience. It’s a little bit different than a rookie coming in. We should get him up to speed pretty quickly.
The Bills gave Harold a $90,000 signing bonus in April, then traded him away in August.
Kind of weird.
“It’s nice to feel wanted,” he said after his first practice in an Eagles uniform.
What happened in Buffalo?
I don’t know, little things that go on,” he said. “Obviously, it’s a business, but coming to a new place and I already feel the guys they’ve accepted me already and I haven’t even been here 24 hours and being in a room with a lot of veterans plays a big part of it. They’ve got a veteran team here and they know how to win and I’m happy I’m here. … This scheme’s amazing, obviously this team’s had a lot of success, they went to the Super Bowl a couple years ago and won it, so you see that it works and hopefully I can gel right in with these guys and try to make a name for myself.
Harold enters a crowded defensive end field where Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and Vinny Curry are the only ones guaranteed a roster spot.
The next group includes Josh Sweat, Daeshon Hall, Shareef Miller and another recent acquisition, Kasim Edebali.
The roster cut-down to 53 is only 19 days away. It’s not much time for Harold to impress the coaches.
"I’m just take one day at a time man and attack it and give it all I’ve got and try to be me every day,” he said. “Whether it’s enough time or not, I just do what I do and try to impress the best way I can and control what I can control, and that’s just to go all out every time I’m on the field."
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