Josh Sweat

With 1st sack out of the way, Josh Sweat ready for more

With 1st sack out of the way, Josh Sweat ready for more

Josh Sweat didn’t have a celebration planned and it showed. 

After the Eagles’ second-year defensive end ran through Jets QB Luke Falk last week for his first-career NFL sack, he extended his arms and ran down the field with his 84-inch wingspan like a real jet. Then he pumped his fists. Then he caught teammates who jumped into him with hugs. 

The whole thing was all just a little disjointed. 

Really, though, it was a release of pure emotion after Sweat picked up his first NFL sack, one that had been eluding him for too long. 

“For a while, I thought I was cursed, honestly,” Sweat said this week. “Because I was hitting [quarterbacks], but they were just getting rid of it. I felt like I should have had that a couple weeks ago. 

“But I was obviously excited. I didn’t even know how to celebrate.”

Sweat might want to practice those celebrations. Because he’s hoping the sacks start rolling in now. 

With the absences of Malik Jackson and Tim Jernigan from the middle of the Eagles’ defensive line, Jim Schwartz has been using Brandon Graham more frequently inside on third downs. That means extended reps for Sweat. Even though he didn’t pick up his first sack until Sunday, he’s been playing well. 

A fourth-round pick out of Florida State last season, Sweat played just 68 defensive snaps snaps in nine games during his rookie year. Through five games this season, Sweat has played 95 defensive snaps and has played more than Vinny Curry in three of five games.  

Now that Sweat has his first sack out of the way, Graham thinks there will be more to follow. 

“Once you get one, man, that’s when the hunger starts,” Graham said. “You want some more and you want some more and you want to figure out how can I get it? With [Sweat] having that mindset and him wanting to keep having that same feeling of sacking the quarterback, he knows he has to keep working on his technique and stay technically sound. When his name is called, win his 1-on-1.” 

On Sunday, Sweat thought he was going to get a sack earlier in the game, but Falk got rid of the football on a play Sweat thought should have been grounding. So Sweat didn’t pick up his sack until the fourth quarter. 

“I saw everyone getting sacks and I was like, ‘I can’t be the only one not getting one,’” Sweat said. “I said, double team or not, I set him up to make it look like I was going upfield and just came right underneath him. I just ran. I literally ran to the other side to go get him. I was not going to be denied.” 

Back in August, when I asked a bunch of Eagles veterans which player they most wanted to see in game action, Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks said Sweat’s name without hesitation. See, Sweat came to training camp about 20 pounds heavier than he was last season, but hadn’t lost his quickness. 

A bunch of his teammates, especially the guys who had to block him this summer, still expect big things from Sweat. And at 6-5, 265 and with his length, Sweat certainly looks the part even more now with the added weight than he did coming out of college. 

There was palpable buzz around Sweat this spring and summer. Even though his role is still limited, the Eagles would certainly love to get consistent production from Sweat the rest of this season. 

“To a lot of people, he’s long and lanky,” offensive lineman Matt Pryor said. “But he’s strong as s---, too.”

Pryor said the area where Sweat has improved most is against the run. And Schwartz said he thought Sweat’s best play against the Jets was one where he sprinted from the other side of the formation to tackle Le’Veon Bell. 

Stopping the run is important. But sacks are game-changing plays. Sweat is hoping they’ll come in bunches. 

“I think they’re about to start rolling in now,” Sweat said. “They’re about to start rolling in.”

He better work on his celebrations then. 

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10 players to watch in Eagles’ third preseason game of 2019

10 players to watch in Eagles’ third preseason game of 2019

The Eagles will play their third preseason game tonight, which used to be the all-important dress rehearsal game. Things have changed.

After two joint practices this week and as the NFL (and the Eagles) continue to place more value on practice over preseason games, things have changed. Sure, some starters will play on Thursday night, but don’t expect to see Carson Wentz. If he does play, it would just be a cameo appearance.

With that in mind, here are 10 players I want to see against the Ravens:

Josh McCown

In his very first practice with the Eagles, McCown was already checking a play at the line of scrimmage. I think the 40-year-old vet will be fine to play in this game. After the injuries we’ve seen this preseason, maybe McCown shouldn’t play a lot, but I’d like to see him in there a little bit.

Clayton Thorson

After breaking out in last week’s game, the rookie quarterback had what was easily his best week of practice. He just looked way more confident than we had seen him before. It’ll be interesting to see if he can continue that in a live game. If Thorson finishes the preseason strong, he’s probably going to force the Eagles to keep him on their 53-man roster so he doesn’t get claimed off waivers.

Rodney McLeod/Corey Clement

I’m lumping these two together because they’re both coming off injury and I don’t know if they’re going to play. Both thought there was a chance they’d play but weren’t positive. We probably haven’t talked about McLeod enough, but he’s an important piece of this defense. While the team added Andrew Sendejo and Johnathan Cyprien, McLeod is really the only guy ideally suited to play that deep safety role when Malcolm Jenkins is up in the box.

Sidney Jones

This has been an encouraging summer for the supremely talented Jones. With Ronald Darby’s return, either Jones or Douglas are going to be heading to the bench and that’s going to be a tough decision. Despite what Douglas has done, I still think Jones is the more talented player with the higher ceiling. I’d like to see if he can flash in this game.

Daeshon Hall

This preseason, Hall leads the NFL in sacks (3), TFLs (4), QB hits (6) and forced fumbles (2). Let’s see if he can keep it going through the last two games. If Hall doesn’t make this roster, then we’ll know how little preseason games count in evaluations. But if Hall doesn’t make this roster, he’ll be on another 53-man somewhere.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Brandon Brooks was cleared to participate in 1-on-1s this week and from what I saw looked good. But we’re nearing Week 1 and it’s not definite that he’ll be ready. If he’s not, then Big V will step in. Vaitai has looked solid this summer, but I’ll be closely watching him again against the Ravens.

Josh Perkins

With the injury to Richard Rodgers, Perkins is now in line to be the Eagles’ third-string TE to start the 2019 season. Perk has had a good summer and is far ahead of where he was this time last year. But I wonder if tight end is a position the Eagles would be interested in upgrading after final cuts.

Stefen Wisniewski

The guy who started at left guard in the Super Bowl might get cut. It’s been a tough summer for Wiz, who all of a sudden can’t seem to snap the ball. The Eagles have even replaced him at second-team center in recent practice days. With a good game on Thursday, Wiz could either help his cause to make the Eagles roster or perhaps raise his trade value.

Josh Sweat

While Hall and Shareef Miller have shined so far this preseason, it’s been a quiet two games for Sweat. And then he even missed a practice day this week with a knee injury, which is even more notable for Sweat. There was a lot of hype around the second-year DE coming into the summer and he started off practices strong, but let’s see it in game action.

Miles Sanders

While I have already seen enough to know Sanders should play a ton in his rookie season, I’d still like to see more. A few more runs and a few targets his way would show everyone what those of us at practice every day have seen. I think he’s the most talented running back on the roster.

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Bryce Brown, Brandon Boykin and more in Roob's random Eagles points

Bryce Brown, Brandon Boykin and more in Roob's random Eagles points

This is the first story in history that mentions Bryce Brown, Josh Sweat, Brandon Boykin, Braxton Miller and Mat McBriar.

It must be Roob’s Random Eagles Points!

Check it out while plodding through the longest month of the year – the month from the preseason opener to the regular-season opener!

• Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night wondering about stuff like … who has the most rushing yards for the Eagles over the last 10 years other than LeSean McCoy? You don’t? Well … maybe some of us do. And I never would have guessed that the answer is Michael Vick. Just goes to show you how unsettled the Eagles’ running back situation has been since Chip Kelly dispatched Shady up to Buffalo after the 2014 season. Would you believe Darren Sproles — who’s never even been a full-time back — is next on that list? And then Ryan Mathews and Bryce Brown. Yep, he’s got the fifth-most rushing yards by an Eagle over the last 10 years (878 of them … 462 of them in three games).

The rest of the top 10 includes Wendell Smallwood, LeGarrette Blount, DeMarco Murray, Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement. None of those guys started more than 14 games in an Eagles uniform. That’s why I’m so excited about Miles Sanders. He’s going to solidify a position that’s had zero continuity for years. This isn’t to downplay the importance of Ajayi and Blount two years ago. They were perfect for that team, but they were short-term answers, and neither is even in the league right now. When you look at the long term, Sanders should be next in the Eagles’ homegrown running back lineage of Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook and McCoy. He’s going to be really, really good.

• In the 24 years Jeff Lurie has owned the Eagles, they’ve won 15 playoff games. In the 62 years before he bought the Eagles, they won eight playoff games.  (Yes, I know there are a lot more postseason games now. But still).

• It’s been 70 years since the Eagles had the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL. The 1949 NFL Champions led the league at 30.3 points per game, and the closest the Eagles have come since is No. 3 seven different times, including three times in the last decade under three different coaches (2010, 2014, 2017). But you know what? This team? With this talent? With these weapons? I wouldn’t be surprised if they make a run at ending that seven-decade drought.

• Orlando Scandrick set an interesting record when he signed with the Eagles a couple weeks ago: Most games played as a Cowboy by a member of the Eagles. He broke a record held by Mat McBriar. Here’s the top 10 most games played for the Cowboys by players who were also Eagles:

125 … Orlando Scandrick

116 … Mat McBriar

106 … Miles Austin

98 .. Kelvin Martin

81 … Herschel Walker

64 … Felix Jones  

57 … Darrin Smith

55 … Brian Baldinger

54 … Mike Ditka

53 … DeMarco Murray

Seriously … where else are you going to find this kind of stuff?

• The last Eagles defensive back with as many as five interceptions in a season was … Brandon Boykin?

• Playing four preseason games might be the stupidest thing in sports. What’s the point? What’s the purpose? Each year, NFL coaches realize more and more just how obsolete this preseason routine is. The days where starters would play a few series in the first game, a good chunk of the second game, most of the third game and none of the fourth game are over. Coaches realize that with OTAs, training camp and joint practices - and in a salary-cap era - there’s no reason to put their star players at risk week after week with nothing at stake. I’m not a fan of the 18-game schedule, but cutting preseason down to two games would be the smartest thing the NFL has done in a long time. What about the lost revenue from gouging fans to pay for these fraud games? I think a league with a $3 BILLION annual TV deal will be OK.

• Carson Wentz’s passer rating in his last three games last year was 108.6. That’s 70 percent completion percentage, six TDs, one INT and 257 yards per game. Playing with a broken back.

• Five things I want to see tonight in the Eagles-Titans preseason game at the Linc: 1) Can Josh Sweat get some consistent push? 2) Can Nate Sudfeld lead a couple scoring drives? 3) Can any of the healthy second tier of wide receivers - Charles Johnson, Marken Michel, Carlton Agudosi, DeAndre Thompkins, Braxton Miller, Greg Ward Jr. — separate themselves? 4) How will Andre Dillard hold up against experienced NFL pass rushers? 5) How comfortable does undrafted rookie linebacker T.J. Edwards look two weeks into camp? With the current state of Eagles linebacking, Edwards has a real shot to make the 53.

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