Fletcher Cox

Javon Hargrave ready to play with Fletcher Cox, other ‘dawgs’ on Eagles’ DL

Javon Hargrave ready to play with Fletcher Cox, other ‘dawgs’ on Eagles’ DL

There’s a pretty obvious benefit that comes with playing next to Fletcher Cox on the Eagles’ defensive line. 

It’s something Javon Hargrave is pretty excited about. 

“I mean, we know who’s gonna get the double team playing with him,” Hargrave said on a conference call with Philly reporters Monday afternoon.

“I pretty much know he’s going to get most of the attention. That can boost me, man.”

Hargrave, 27, agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract with the Eagles last week as the team continues to pour major resources into its defensive line. Playing next to a five-time Pro Bowler like Cox means there will be a lot of 1-on-1s in Hargrave’s future as offensive lines shift their help Cox’s way.  

But Hargrave isn’t just excited about playing with Cox in 2020. He listed off the names: Malik Jackson, Brandon Graham, Hassan Ridgeway, Derek Barnett. Hargrave compared it to his defensive line in Pittsburgh, which also included T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Cam Heyward and Stephen Tuitt. 

It’s just like I’m back at home with a bunch of dawgs, just ready to eat. I just love when you got a lot of great players around. It really ups your game and helps you get better as a football player.

The Eagles signed Hargrave despite Jackson’s expected return from a Lisfranc injury suffered early in 2019. But after how decimated the Eagles were at defensive tackle last season, they saw how much it hurts their defense when they don’t pair Cox with a guy who can beat a 1-on-1. Heck, during one week last season, the Eagles signed three guys who needed to play that weekend. 

There is some projecting when it comes to Hargrave, who played in a 3-4 system for the last four years in Pittsburgh. But even in a 3-4, two-gapping defense as a nose tackle with the Steelers, Hargrave still managed to pick up 14 1/2 sacks in four years and showed tremendous ability to get after the passer. 

So now they’re putting him in a one-gapping system known for letting defensive linemen get up the field and attack quarterbacks. 

“It’s every D-lineman’s dream to play in a system like this,” said Hargrave, who will be getting back to the play style that made him a third-round pick out of FCS school South Carolina State in 2016. 

Even though they needed to project some with Hargrave, the Eagles identified him early in the free agency process and went after him hard. At 27 years old and coming off his rookie contract, Hargrave was a guy the Eagles could sign not as a stopgap but as a long-term piece. 

Hargrave said he felt the love. There were other teams interested in him — like the Steelers and Bills — but Hargrave felt like the Eagles were the most interested and that meant a lot to him. 

Because of the uncertainty of this NFL offseason, Hargrave isn’t sure how long it will take him to get acclimated to the Eagles, their building and their scheme. There’s a chance OTAs won’t even happen. The good news for Hargrave is that whenever he can get inside the NovaCare Complex, there will be a five-time Pro Bowler waiting to take him under his wing.

“I know there’s a lot to learn from somebody (Cox) that’s been doing it so long and being so good at his craft for so long,” Hargrave said. “I’m just eager to really see how he goes about his day and makes himself good. I don’t know if he’s going to share any of his secrets but I’m just hoping I can get some of them secrets and help me build my career.”

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After wasted season, Malik Jackson determined to come back stronger

After wasted season, Malik Jackson determined to come back stronger

There was a lot of excitement when the Eagles signed Malik Jackson last offseason and rightfully so. The Eagles finally found the perfect complement to play next to Fletcher Cox.

He lasted 32 snaps.

Jackson had to watch the rest of the season, all the ups and the downs, as he rehabbed.

It sucked,” Jackson said on Monday. “It was a big eye-opening experience. Nobody ever wants to get injured, but to be on IR, especially for the whole year, for the first time, it was a lot. But I learned a lot, I learned a lot about myself. Ready to come back next year stronger.

Jackson suffered a Lisfranc injury in the season opener and had season-ending surgery shortly after. He didn’t even last a full game into his three-year, $30 million contract.

But the good news is that Jackson, who turns 30 in a few days, fully expects to be ready for the start of the 2020 season. And he's "super motivated" to return to top form.

While he wouldn’t commit to being ready for OTAs, he thinks he’ll be good to go between April and June, which means he should be on the field at the start of training in the summer.

Jackson will spend the next several months splitting time between Philadelphia and his home in California during rehab. He’ll be back in town for several doctor visits.

This trip to IR was a new experience for Jackson, who hadn’t missed a game since his rookie season back in 2012. He had stacked six straight complete seasons before coming to Philadelphia, where it seems like just about no one is safe from injury.

“It does suck, but it’s an eye-opening experience,” Jackson said. “Something you have to go through. You think you’re invincible because you go through every season and then this happens.”

While Jackson was brought in to play next to Cox, the pair didn’t get much on-field time together this year. Cox was rehabbing a foot injury all spring and all summer. Cox didn’t begin practicing with the team until the week before the opener.

So Cox and Jackson have been on the field together for just a few days in practice and part of one game.

“On a personal level, I got to know [Cox] real well,” Jackson said. “Now I just want to go out there and play football with him.”

Jackson said the team did a good job of making him feel included throughout the lost season but he was still away rehabbing a good deal.  

While Jackson was obviously disappointed about his lost season, he tried to make the most of it. He got into art, he spent more time with his family. He even got to celebrate his 4-year-old daughter’s birthday with her in California.

All that helped him get through a season during which he often thought about how good the rotation of him, Cox and Tim Jernigan could have been. It helped him to survive what was probably the toughest professional season of his career.

“I think the first two weeks were the hardest,” Jackson said. “But then you just kind of take a breath and understand it’s OK, it happens and I can come back from it. It’s not career ending. It’s OK.”

For most of the season, Jackson was kind of a forgotten man. But getting him back in 2020 could be a huge boost for the Eagles.

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Eagles get a game-changing play from stars Malcolm Jenkins, Fletcher Cox when it matters in NFC East clincher

Eagles get a game-changing play from stars Malcolm Jenkins, Fletcher Cox when it matters in NFC East clincher

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles had just kicked a 50-yard field goal and were clinging to a three-point lead but it didn’t feel safe. 

The Eagles needed a play. 

It should be no surprise it came from Malcolm Jenkins and Fletcher Cox. 

With the game and the season on the line, the Eagles’ best defensive players — the only two Pro Bowlers on Jim Schwartz’s defense over the last four years — came up with one of the biggest plays of the day. 

“That changed the game,” Tim Jernigan said. “That changed the game.”

The Eagles were bringing pressure on a 2nd-and-8 and the snap to Daniel Jones was low. From there, Jenkins just batted it away and Cox pushed Jones out of the way and fell on the ball at the 2-yard line. 

“I just saw him bobbling it and tried to punch it out,” Jenkins said. “Fletch did a good job of scooping it up and getting it down to the 2.” 

Boston Scott scored on a two-yard run on the next play and the Eagles’ lead was extended to 10 in their 34-17 win (see observations).

This forced fumble and fumble recovery from Jenkins and Cox was huge. 

“We needed that,” Jenkins said. “They had the momentum at that point in time, so that was a big shift, especially to get right down to the [2-yard line] was a huge momentum shift and you feel that as a team and that was the play that sparked it all.”

On the previous drive, the Eagles had given up a 68-yard rushing touchdown to Saquon Barkley, so the lead didn’t feel very safe after Jake Elliott drilled a 50-yard field goal. 

The story of the 2019 Eagles is about the injuries to key players and their replacements, some coming from the practice squad. Nothing wrong with unexpected players coming up big. But there’s something to be said for star players making huge plays when it matters. That’s what this was. 

In addition to Jenkins and Cox, Brandon Graham also had a great game. He had three tackles, three TFLs and a sack. 

In exactly half of the 16 games this season, the Eagles’ defense has given up 17 or fewer points. In fact, it has given up 17 or fewer in seven of the last nine. 

“We love it when it comes down to the defense,” Cox said. “I think every guy here steps up. Nobody is out here trying to do anything special. Everybody is just doing their job and I think that’s the thing about the last four weeks. Every man doing their job.”

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