Eagles

Brian Dawkins, Terrell Owens among 15 finalists for Pro Football Hall of Fame

Brian Dawkins, Terrell Owens among 15 finalists for Pro Football Hall of Fame

Eagles great Brian Dawkins is one step closer to being immortalized in Canton.

Dawkins has made the cut from 26 semifinalists to 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame to be voted on by the Hall of Fame committee the day before Super Bowl LI in February. These Hall of Famers will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio, in August.

"It's a blessing to be mentioned among the names of so many other guys who have made it this far, let alone to be hopefully in the Hall of Fame someday," Dawkins said in a statement released by the Eagles on Tuesday.

In his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility, Dawkins is a finalist, along with former Eagles receiver Terrell Owens, who is a finalist for the second straight year.

"I don't take these things for granted," Dawkins said. "I understand the plight of safety [in the Hall of Fame]. To make it this far in my first year, it's a tremendous, tremendous honor."

Dawkins, now 43, was drafted by the Eagles in the second round of the 1996 draft and went on to become an all-time great and fan favorite over the next 13 years. After making seven Pro Bowls with the Eagles, Dawkins made two more with the Broncos during his 16-year career.

Dawkins is now a full-time employee with the Eagles, acting as a football operations executive.

A truly unique player, Dawkins is one of just six players in NFL history with 25 sacks and 25 interceptions. As an Eagle, he had 34 interceptions, recovered 15 fumbles, forced 36 and had 26 sacks.

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Owens, 43, played just 21 regular-season games with the Eagles but has had a lasting impact on the city, largely because he was the piece that nearly brought a championship to Philadelphia.

In 2004, he caught 77 passes for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns before an injury kept him out until the Super Bowl. But Owens returned in time for Super Bowl XXXIX and caught nine passes for 122 yards in the loss to New England.

Owens made six Pro Bowls in his career and is second all-time in receiving yards with 15,934 and third in receiving touchdowns with 153.

Joining Dawkins and Owens among the finalists are: offensive linemen Tony Boselli, Alan Faneca, Kevin Mawae and Joe Jacoby, running backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Terrell Davis, quarterback Kurt Warner, defensive end Jason Taylor, wide receiver Isaac Bruce, defensive backs Ty Law and John Lynch, kicker Morten Andersen and coach Don Coryell.

Learning on the fly, Eagles’ interior DL needs to lead defense

Learning on the fly, Eagles’ interior DL needs to lead defense

As we’ve learned over the last four seasons, Jim Schwartz’s entire defense is predicated on getting pass rush from the front four. 

That won’t change in 2020.

Where that pass rush specifically comes from, however, might. 

Because after a year when the Eagles interior defensive line was completely demolished by injuries, the Eagles now boast an impressive group of defensive tackles that might just be the best in the entire league. 

It’s no secret: Those defensive tackles will need to be the engine that powers the defense in 2020. 

With us three healthy, and it being a really good rotation, that it should be really good for this team,” Fletcher Cox said on Wednesday. “… The defensive line, we have to be the group that leads this team. I’m really looking forward to it.

In 2019, the Eagles were forced to sign guys off the street to play next to their perennial Pro Bowler, Cox. But even Cox wasn’t his usual self last year after coming back from offseason toe surgery. 

In 2020? 

Cox is fully healthy and having a full offseason to prepare. Malik Jackson and Hassan Ridgeway both return from injuries that ended their 2019 seasons early. And the Eagles went out and signed Javon Hargrave to a three-year, $39 million contact. This defensive line is legitimately four deep with guys who are starter caliber. 

“I think it’s a really good group,” Cox said. “It’ll be a solid group along with all the other guys that’s in the room that I played with last year. It’s a really solid group and I’m really looking forward to getting back to football with those guys, with Malik and [Javon] coming in. It’ll be a really good rotation, whatever we decide to do. I’m just excited for those guys.”

That doesn’t mean there won’t be growing pains. Because obviously Cox is still the centerpiece of the defensive line and, really, the entire defense. But he hasn’t played much — or at all — with the three guys who will be playing next to him. 

Take a look: 

Cox and Hargrave: Have never played together 

Cox and Jackson: Have half a game together 

Cox and Ridgeway: Started five games together 

And with Jackson, that half of football came after a training camp where Cox was limited coming off injury. So Cox has the most experience with the defensive tackle who is expected to play the least. Hargrave is expected to be a starter and Jackson will be a rotational player who might play a lot of snaps at defensive end too. 

It’s going to take time for these guys to learn to play with one another. And this offseason is obviously an unusual one thanks to COVID-19. There were no OTAs and there’s an abbreviated training camp with no preseason games. 

“When Timmy (Jernigan) was here, it took a while for us to get on the same page,” Cox said. “You just don’t learn those things over night. I didn’t have a training camp with Malik. We only had like half of a game under our belt. We never really got into that same groove. It’s going to take some time. 

“I think the main thing for [Hargrave] is going out, playing fast, learning the defense, which he’s doing a really good job at, catching onto things that we do. The realest thing is just going out and getting the repetitions with him. It think it’s going to take a lot of repetition for him and me to get on the same page, a lot of communication. So far, so good.”

On paper, this is the best group of defensive tackles ever assembled with Cox. And Hargrave ought to be the best complement next to him we’ve ever seen, surpassing the likes of Jernigan and Bennie Logan. But we’ve got to see it first. 

The Eagles better hope these guys figure out how to play next to each other pretty quickly. The 2020 defense is relying on them. 

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Eagles waive DT Bruce Hector and DB Prince Smith

Eagles waive DT Bruce Hector and DB Prince Smith

The Eagles on Friday released two players, including a defensive tackle who played in 11 games over the last two years and a Philadelphia native trying to make the team as an undrafted rookie.

The moves, along with the additions of Vinny Curry and Marcus Green, leave the roster right at the 80-man training camp limit.

The team released defensive tackle Bruce Hector and cornerback Prince Smith, an undrafted rookie who played at New Hampshire.

Hector originally made the Eagles as an undrafted rookie free agent out of South Florida in 2018. He bounced up and down between the active roster and the practice squad three times and played in eight games, with 82 defensive snaps and 19 more on special teams. 

Hector, 25, was with the team in last year’s preseason but was traded on Aug. 22 to the Cards in exchange for safety Rudy Ford. But when the Cards released him nine days later, he rejoined the Eagles on Sept. 1 on the practice squad. 

He had two more stints on the practice squad and two on the active roster last year, playing 53 defensive snaps and 20 special teams snaps in three games. He was active for the Seattle playoff game and got five defensive snaps and seven on special teams.

After cutting ties with Hector, the Eagles have six defensive tackles remaining on the roster - Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Hassan Ridgeway and Anthony Rush, who were all with the team last year, Steelers free agent Javon Hargrave and undrafted rookie Raequan Williams.

Smith grew up in Philadelphia and played high school football at Imhotep Institute Charter in West Oak Lane. He signed with the Eagles on April 30, just after the draft.

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More on the Eagles