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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