The Philadelphia Eagles just wrapped OTAs and now the players are off until training camp, which begins next month. The Eagles training camp will take place at Lehigh University. The rookies and quarterbacks will report on July 22. The remaining veterans will arrive on July 25.
The Eagles would appear to be heading into the 2012 season in much better shape than a year ago. They have all the important pieces under contract in players like wide receiver DeSean Jackson and running back LeSean McCoy. In addition, players such as cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha had all of mini-camp to work together. DeMeco Ryans, the Eagles newly acquired middle linebacker, had a chance to get acclimated to the team’s system as well.
Andy Reid, Eagles head coach, has been pleased with the way his team has worked during the offseason. Reid can see the team has been playing with plenty of energy.
“You saw that last year,” Reid said. “I think that’s something that they’ve carried over into this year. The d-line (defensive line) starts it off, and the o-line (offensive line), even though they can’t really compete right now, keeps it loud and exciting. It’s a good atmosphere. There’s no pads on here so they can’t really compete. With the back end guys, it’s just contagious and it carries on into the linebackers and the secondary. Those guys can compete. They can’t do bump-and-run, but they can compete. Likewise on the offensive side, the guys are challenging each other and trying to get better.”
The Eagles certainly want to play better than last year. The team posted an 8-8 record and didn’t go to the playoffs. They did finish the season on a high note winning their last four games against the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.
Michael Vick, Eagles quarterback, struggled with injuries and some inconsistency. Vick threw for 3,303 yards with 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. The Eagles need a big year from their signal caller.
“Michael knows what he needs to do and he’s worked like crazy,” Reid said. “One of the reasons that we’ve had the attendance here that we’ve had and one of the reasons that we’ve had energy is Michael Vick. He was here and he hasn’t missed a workout. He’s the one who’s out here motivating that energy and making the players around him be here. He’s done a great job of that this offseason.”
The Eagles first preseason game will be against the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 9 at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles will open the regular season against the Cleveland Browns on the road on Sept. 9. The home opener will be on September 16 against the Baltimore Ravens.
NOTE: The Eagles announced that single-game tickets will go on sale for all 10 home games for the 2012 season on June 21 at 10 a.m. Fans can purchase tickets at that time by going to www.philadelphiaeagles.com. Prices range from $70 to $95 and there is a four-ticket limit per household.
It’s not every day an NFL team comes to your neighborhood school to put together a playground for the students. That’s why there was so much excitement when the Philadelphia Eagles came out to the Comegys Elementary School at 51st Street and Greenway Avenue.
The Eagles Youth Partnership (EYP) and the Philadelphia Eagles worked with the Southwest Philadelphia school for the 16th annual Eagles Playground Build. The students joined a number of players such as quarterback Michael Vick, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, running back LeSean McCoy, wide receiver DeSean Jackson and linebacker Demeco Ryans in painting the exterior and interior murals, laying mosaic tiles on benches and tables, constructing a large play structure and planting gardens. A turf field was also installed to give the students an area to play field sports.
Comegys School has more than 450 students from kindergarten through 6th grade. The school was chosen by EYP and the School District of Philadelphia for the playground build. The murals were created by a team of artists, led by David McShane, from the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.
Lisa Wilmer, principal at Comegys School, was very impressed with the efforts of the Eagles, volunteers, students and staff. Wilmer remembers the day when her school was selected for the playground build.
“It was a busy day that day,” Wilmer said. “So, to get the phone call at the end of the day that says ‘Congratulations! You won the Eagles Playground Build’ was just awesome. We had been trying for years to get the playground. We always came in second place, but this is our year.
“You can see the joy in the eyes of the kids. We have volunteers who are community members. They just wanted to come and help. It’s bringing the community together. The staff has been great. Everybody is proud. You’re proud to be a Comegys student and staff member. I’m just happy to be the principal.”
Christina Weiss Lurie, president of EYP, has been involved with this neighborhood effort for a long time.
“This is the 16th playground build or as I call it ‘school transformation,” said Weiss Lurie, wife of Jeffrey Lurie, chairman and CEO of the Eagles. “We’re just so excited to be here and to watch the kids with their big eyes watching their playground gradually take hold whether it’s field or the garden or the mosaic, murals or the playground structure. Now, they have a safe place to be kids and dream their dreams of what they want to do as they grow old.”
The players have been really busy with the OTAs. However, McCoy was happy to spend time with the kids.
“It’s great to come out and hang with the kids and the fans,” McCoy said. “It’s a good thing to give back. This is where it really counts off the field where we can go out and do some good deeds.”
Earlier this spring Vick was playing chess against some of the city’s best players. This week he was helping to paint one of the murals at the school playground.
“I’m really enjoying this,” Vick said. “It’s going to be nice to ride past the school and say hey, ‘I made a contribution to the school.’ This is a school in the community. I think to bring our team out here to paint the school and make a contribution is phenomenal.”
The Philadelphia Eagles will open training camp on July 22 at Lehigh University. The rookies and selected veterans will report the first day. The rest of the players will report on July 25. The first full practice will take place on July 27.
The Eagles first preseason game will be against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles will open the regular season on Sept. 9 against the Cleveland Browns on the road.
With all that in place, this should be a big year for the Eagles. All their key players are healthy and signed. Now, it’s time to get down to business. There are some players who need to have good seasons if the team is going to get to the Super Bowl or at least make a strong run in the NFC playoffs.
Vick is capable of having a much better season. The Eagles signal caller was injured during portions of last season. That had a big impact on his game. Although he threw 14 interceptions, he still managed to pass for 3,303 yards with 18 touchdowns. Vick played much better the last four games of the season. The Eagles won all of those games and finished 8-8.
Vick has himself under the microscope this season. He recently brought himself, as well as the team, a lot of attention with his comments on Comcast SportsNet. He said, “I think we have a chance to develop a dynasty.”
The 6-foot, 215-pounder, is surrounded by a number of very talented players at the skilled positions. This may be one of the best Eagle teams in regards to personnel in a long time.
LeSean McCoy/running back
McCoy was arguably the best running back in football last year. He had 273 carries for 1,309 yards while scoring 17 TDs. McCoy has good speed and great moves in the open field. Eagles head coach Andy Reid needs to establish the running game with McCoy. If he can run the football the way he did last season, that will be a big help to Michael Vick.
DeSean Jackson/wide receiver
A year ago, Jackson was playing without a contract. Well, now that’s been settled. He’s signed his deal. Jackson is one of the most explosive players in the NFL. Two years ago, he made the Pro Bowl as a wide receiver and punt returner. Last year, he had 58 receptions for 961 yards and four TD receptions. He should be able to surpass those numbers this year. He’s a big-play receiver with tremendous speed.
Demetress Bell/offensive tackle
The Eagles are hoping Bell will step in and help the offensive line. He will replace Jason Peters who is out for the season with a ruptured right Achilles tendon. The 6-foot-5, 311-pounder played for the Buffalo Bills last season.
DeMeco Ryans/middle linebacker
The Eagles need Ryans mostly to play against the run. Last year, it seems like every running back that played against the Eagles had a big day rushing. Ryans, a 6-foot-1, 247-pounder, had 64 tackles with the Houston Texans last season. He should be a big help to the Eagles defense.
Rodgers-Cromartie didn’t get a chance to exhibit his skills with Asante Samuel here. But Samuel has been traded to the Atlanta Falcons. Rodgers-Cromartie played some good football for the Arizona Cardinals before the Eagles acquired him. He had 16 interceptions in his first three seasons. Four of those interceptions were returned for TDs. The 6-foot-2, 182-pounder is a terrific cover guy. The Eagles need him to play well against the pass and the run. He had just 28 tackles last season.
Asomugha is regarded as one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks. The Eagles are going to need his aggressive play on the corners. Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie should form a good combination in the secondary. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder had 40 tackles and three interceptions last season.
When Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie makes the big trip back to face his old team, the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon, he will be taking a 2-0 record with him. In fact, the Cardinals are also undefeated after two games.
The Eagles are coming off an exciting 24-23 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. The Cardinals upset the New England Patriots, 20-18, in Foxborough, Mass.
This game also has an interesting twist. In 2011, Rodgers-Cromartie was traded to the Eagles along with a second round pick for quarterback Kevin Kolb, who may start again for the Cardinals if opening day starter John Skelton is still recovering from an ankle injury he suffered against the Seattle Seahawks in week one.
Rodgers-Cromartie didn’t get a chance to show much last year. He had 36 total and 27 solo tackles and no interceptions. He spent a good portion of the season playing inside as part of the Eagles’ nickel page, mostly due to the outside presence of since traded cornerback Asante Samuel. But Rodgers-Cromartie is playing some great football right now and already has two interceptions and two solo tackles this season.
“I feel real good especially to be 2-0 and get them in front of your home crowd,” Rodgers-Cromartie said of the Eagles win against the Ravens. “You got to love it. I just look to build from there. I would just say as a team and as a unit we put the time in and they finally allowed me to go back to where I was. They got me feeling comfortable and allowing me to play fast.”
Rodgers-Cromartie, a 6-foot-2, 182-pounder, has certainly been one of the Eagles biggest bright spots on defense, but he’s not the only standout. DeMeco Ryans, Eagles middle linebacker, has been a real defensive stalwart.
“DeMeco is a great man,” he said. “You can see that in stopping the run and playing the pass. He got an interception. He’s a dominating linebacker. Then, you got Nnamdi (Asomugha) coming over. You’re not going to take balls his way. He can take down a whole side of the field. Our defensive line is fierce. They’re fast off the ball. The quarterback knows if he holds the ball too long he’s going to be sacked. Then, we got Brandon Boykin (rookie) coming in making plays. I think that’s big for him as a rookie coming in and taking over for (Joselio) Hanson and doing a good job.”
Rodgers-Cromartie is one of the best young cornerbacks in the league. In 2009, he was named to the Pro Bowl after hauling in six interceptions and forcing three fumbles that year. He played a big role in the Cardinals’ success. He helped Arizona to a 32-25 win over the Eagles in the NFC championship game that season. In addition, he played in Super Bowl XLIII, losing a close one to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-23. He’s looking forward to returning to Arizona and competing against his former team.
“It’s going to be good just to see some old friends and some of the guys,” he said. “It’s going to be nice to get back out there. But I have to understand I’m going out there to play a ball game. I can’t get too caught up into it.”
Rodgers-Cromartie was a terrific player at Lakewood Ranch High School in Bradenton, Fla. He was an all-area selection as a defensive back and wide receiver.
He played his college football at Tennessee State where he was one of the top players in the country. The former Ohio Valley Conference star was the 16th player selected in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft. Rodgers-Cromartie was the first Tennessee State player chosen in the first round in since 1974 when defensive end Ed “Too Tall” Jones (Dallas Cowboys, first overall) and linebacker Wayman Bryant (Chicago Bears, fourth overall) were selected.
So far, it’s been a big year for Rodgers-Cromartie, the Eagles and Tennessee State. He’s been keeping up with the Tigers.
“Big Blue is off to a 3-0 start right now,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “We beat Jackson State, FAMU (Florida A&M) and Austin Peay. I’m very proud of them. Rod Reed (Tennessee State head coach) has the program turned around. They’re doing real good. So, shout out to Big Blue.”
The Philadelphia Eagles will open the preseason against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, Sept. 9 at Lincoln Financial Field. The kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. on 6ABC as the NFL season gets underway in Philadelphia.
Of course, the Eagles preseason matchup with the Steelers is secondary as the team deals with the passing of Garrett Reid, son of Eagles’ coach Andy, on Sunday.
On the field there are some key players to watch in this contest. Although the veterans don’t usually play very much in the preseason, it’s time to take a look at what they have been able to do in training camp so far.
Offensively, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick will have plenty of eyes on him. Vick is coming off a lackluster year last season. He needs a big year for the Eagles to make a strong run and get to the Super Bowl.
In the first two or three possessions, Vick will be under the microscope in terms of his passing, leadership and how well the offense moves the ball. Vick remains one of the NFL’s most exciting players and can explode at any time. With that in mind, if and when he breaks the pocket will he slide or get out of bounds? He has to remain healthy.
Demetress Bell, Eagles offensive tackle, is replacing Jason Peters on the offensive line and is a player to keep your eyes on. Bell has to open those holes for running back LeSean McCoy. He has to provide good pass protection for Vick.
On defense, DeMeco Ryans will be playing middle linebacker. The Eagles need his leadership and experience at this position. Tackling will be the key thing to watch. A year ago, teams had a field day running on the Eagles. They needed help at middle linebacker. That’s why they went out and acquired Ryans from the Houston Texans in the offseason. He has to stop the run. He needs to establish himself right away.
In the secondary, cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha are two talented players who really struggled last season. They will be expected to make a lot of plays against the run as well as the pass.
Up front, the Eagles should give some playing time rookie defensive end Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. Cox, a first round pick, is considered a playmaking defensive lineman. It’s time to find out how much he has learned in the training camp. Graham, a former first rounder, hopes to get on the field to show what he can do.
The Philadelphia Eagles had a strong defensive effort in their season-opening win against the Cleveland Browns last Sunday. DeMeco Ryans, Eagles’ middle linebacker, was a big factor playing extremely well against the run and the pass. Ryans had five solo tackles in the Eagles’ 17-16 victory against the Browns.
They’re going to need him to put together another great performance when the Eagles (1-0) host the Baltimore Ravens (1-0) on Sunday, Sept. 16 at 1 p.m. (CBS3). The Ravens, led by quarterback Joe Flacco, will bring a no-huddle offense to Lincoln Financial Field. Flacco completed 21 of 29 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns on Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. He has three good receivers in tight end Dennis Pitta (5 receptions for 73 yards and 1 TD), wideouts Anquan Boldin (4 receptions for 63 yards and 1 TD) and Torrey Smith (3 receptions for 57 yards). Ryans knows how you can defend the Ravens’ offense.
“You just have to be poised,” Ryans said. “You have to be poised with the no huddle – you can’t panic. That’s the biggest thing they want you to do is panic and change personnel and matchup with what they’re doing.
“You can’t panic. You just have to be calm, play solid and stop them on first and second downs to get them in third and long. That’s the thing to do is get it to third and long and get them off the field quick. When they’re trying to move as quick as they are and you’re trying to get them off the field, it kind of stops them from trying to come out in the no huddle. It can play to both team’s advantage. Our thing is to get stops as quick and early as possible.”
Ryans, a 6-foot-2, 247-pounder, was a big offseason acquisition by the Eagles, coming over in a trade from the Houston Texans. He was a two-time Pro Bowl and an AP All-Pro selection during his playing days in Houston. Ryans is impressed with the way the defense played in the first game.
“It’s about our defense coming and working together,” Ryans said. “Everybody was trying to make a play. It’s everybody working together.”
In addition to a good passing attack, Baltimore has a solid running game with Ray Rice, who had 10 carries for 68 yards and 2 TDs in the Ravens win against the Bengals. Rice is one of the best running backs in the NFL. Ryans is well aware of Rice’s ability to pick up huge chunks of yardage.
“Ray Rice is a nice player,” Ryans said. “He’s a very durable guy and you see the last few years that he has been in the league, he has gotten it done with both rushing and passing. He doesn’t miss a lot of games and doesn’t miss a lot of snaps. He’s a very durable player. He’s a very good player.”
DeMeco Ryans will take on a lot of responsibility immediately with the Philadelphia Eagles. Ryans, a two-time Pro Bowl linebacker from the Houston Texas, was acquired by the Eagles this week in exchange for a fourth round draft pick in 2012. The Eagles and Texans also swapped third round picks this year. The Eagles now have the 89th selection overall, while the Texans have the Eagles’ 77th choice overall.
Ryans will be expected to make a big impact as the team’s new middle linebacker. Andy Reid, Eagles head coach, feels Ryans brings a lot to the table.
“We were able to bring DeMeco into a good situation with his playing style and obviously he will be a great asset to the Philadelphia Eagles defense,” Reid said. “He’ll be playing middle linebacker for us. He’s coming from a 3-4 defense that had been a 4-3 in years past, and we consider him one of the top 4-3 middle linebackers in the National Football League. He’s got a nice track record to show that. We’re excited to have him join our young linebacking corps and bring some senior leadership in there and experience.”
Ryans was originally a second round pick of the Texans in 2006. He has played and started in 86 games, earning Pro Bowl honors following the 2007 and 2009 seasons and was an Associated Press All-Pro selection in 2007. Ryans, 27, leaves Houston as the team’s all-time leader with 637 tackles while also contributing eight sacks, six forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and two interceptions in his six-year career. The Eagles will need him to make a lot of plays in the middle of the field.
“I’m happy being back in a 4-3 defense,” Ryan said. “That’s the defense I’ve been playing since high school. I have been in the middle of that defense for a while in high school and in college. It’s back to what I do naturally. I’m a natural middle linebacker, and this is what suits my ability.
“I can sense that everyone has been looking for that middle linebacker. I’m happy to be the guy that they chose to step in and be the middle linebacker of this defense. Like I said, it’s a perfect fit for me, and it’s what I like to do. I’m just eager to get started.”
Ryans, a 6-foot-1, 247-pounder, was named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2006 after leading the team in tackles (156) and adding 3.5 sacks and an interception. He went on to start all 16 games and compiled over 100 tackles in each of the next three seasons. In 2007, he garnered All Pro, Pro Bowl and team MVP honors. In 2009, he earned his second trip to the Pro Bowl and was voted as a team captain in 2010.
But that year he suffered a rupture of the Achilles tendon after six games. He did come back in 2011 to start all 16 games. He helped contribute to a Texans defense that ranked among the league leaders in several categories including points per game (17.4 –4th), yards per game (285.7 –2nd), passing yards (189.7—3rd), rushing yards per game (96.0—4th) and sacks (44-6th). Ryans gradually raised his level of play following the injury.
“I was slow,” Ryans said. “It slowed me down a little bit at the beginning of the season. As the season went on, it continued to get better. Towards the end of the season, I was moving around, feeling like myself again.”
Ryans, a native of Bessemer, Ala., played his college football at Alabama, where he was a first-team All-American in 2005. He was a teammate of Eagles offensive guard Evan Mathis with the Crimson Tide. In addition to his play on the field, Ryans has been noted for his community work. He has his own foundation. Reid feels Ryans’ leadership and community efforts are similar to former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins.
“It’s funny you say that because Rick Smith, the Texans general manager, actually said that,” Reid said. “That’s the type of person that you’re getting. Obviously, they are two different type of individuals but with some of the leadership and character that you’re getting on and off the field, I think they are the same.”
After a terrible loss in the desert to the Arizona Cardinals, the Philadelphia Eagles will face the New York Giants in a big NFC East battle at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday night (8:30 p.m. on NBC 10). The Eagles (2-1) were defeated 27-6 by the Cardinals in a contest where the team was beaten on both sides of the football.
The defending Super Bowl champions Giants (2-1) are coming off a 36-7 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Thursday so the Giants should be well rested. Defensively, the Eagles will be tested in this contest.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning had a terrific game in the win over the Panthers. Manning completed 27 of 35 passes for 288 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. But what’s more impressive about the win is the Giants played without wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and running back Ahmad Bradshaw. Despite the lack of talent, they were still able to dominate.
Manning has completed 79 of 118 passes for 1,011 yards with five TDs and three interceptions. His big target is wide receiver Victor Cruz who leads the team with 23 receptions for 279 yards and one TD. Andre Brown is the Giants’ top rusher with 33 carries for 184 yards and three TDs.
The Eagles will have to get a strong pass rush from their front four. Defensive ends Jason Babin and Trent Cole have been the team’s best pass rushers. Babin leads the team with 2.5 sacks. Cole has 1.5 sacks. Both players have also played well against the run. Babin has nine solo tackles while Cole has four solo hits.
If they can get to Manning early, that could make a difference. Although the Giants can run the football, the Eagles have played extremely well against the run. The linebackers have been outstanding. Middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans leads the team with 18 solo tackles. Ryans has been a real good leader. Rookie linebacker Mychal Kendricks has been sensational posting 12 solo tackles.
In the secondary, the Eagles have had problems guarding some of the league’s big time receivers. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals wide receiver, had a great performance in the Cardinals victory. Fitzgerald had nine receptions for 114 yards and one TD catch. Cruz has ability to get deep against most with his speed. He should pose a big challenge for either Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie or Nnamdi Asomugha. Both players will need some help from safety Kurt Coleman with the long passes. Coleman has played some great football. He has 17 solo tackles and three interceptions.
Offensively, the Eagles have to find a way to protect quarterback Michael Vick who has been sacked nine times this season. In addition, that doesn’t count all the hits he has taken when he releases the ball.
Vick completed just 17 of 37 passes for 217 yard with no touchdowns and interceptions. He also had two turnovers (two fumbles). Vick has completed 69 of 125 passes for 905 yards with two TD passes and six interceptions this season. He has 21 carries for 94 yards and one rushing TD.
The Eagles should use running back LeSean McCoy more to open up the offense and take some pressure off Vick. McCoy is averaging 4.5 yards a carry. He had 13 carries for 70 yards.
Overall, the Eagles have to keep the turnovers down. They have 12 turnovers on the season.
In spite of that, this should be an interesting matchup between the Eagles and Giants. They split with the Giants last year. In fact, the Eagles defeated the Giants, 17-10 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., with then backup quarterback Vince Young as the starter. Overall, the Eagles have defeated the Giants seven out of the last nine times since 2008. Both teams have played some memorable games including the contest in 2010 when DeSean Jackson returned a punt 65 yards for a TD in the closing seconds to give the Eagles a 38-31 win.
Cullen Jenkins has been one of the Philadelphia Eagles’ most consistent players on the defensive line. Jenkins, Eagles defensive tackle, had a big game in the Eagles’ 19-17 victory over the New York Giants. He had five solo and seven total tackles including two hurries.
The Eagles (3-1) will need another strong performance from him when they battle the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 1 p.m. (FOX Channel 29). The big key will be getting pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers brilliant quarterback. Although the Steelers have struggled in the first three games, Roethlisberger has been terrific. He has completed 80-of-120 passes for 904 yards with 8 TDs and just one interception. Jenkins knows this is a huge task with Roethlisberger’s size and ability to move around in the pocket.
“That’s when you have to be more discipline because you know that possibility is there,” Jenkins said. “For us up front, it’s just getting him down. If you can get him, you have to get him wrapped up and keep him from throwing the ball.”
Of course, Jenkins believes stopping the running is a factor as well. The Steelers have three solid running backs with Rashard Mendenhall, Will Johnson and Isaac Redman.
“It’s always the No. 1 goal each week going in to stop the run, keep the run contained and down and distance in our favor,” said Jenkins, a 6-foot-2, 305-pounder. “If you do that, you usually have pretty good success.”
Jenkins has 13 total tackles this season. He’s been very aggressive against the pass as well as the run. Jenkins has received plenty of help from middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, safety Kurt Coleman and others.
“Just playing together as a team,” Jenkins said. “Everybody just being accountable for their gaps and assignments, it’s just a team effort. There’s definitely a level of trust out there and I think we have that this year. You’re confident the guy next to you or the guy behind you is going to take care of their assignment and you know that you just need to care of your assignment to make it easier on that person.”
The Eagles have won three of four games by a grand total of four points. Jenkins has been impressed with the way the team has been able to win these close games.
“Because we’ve been fighting, fighting through the whole game,” Jenkins said. “It’s never any doubt in us. It’s never any let up. Guys aren’t pointing their finger out there. You know, heck, if the offense doesn’t have the best day, the defense tries to step it up for them and then again if the defense is struggling late in the games, you know, we’ve given up some points and allowed teams to get the lead, and the offense steps it up for us and they come right back and get the lead back. This has been a great team effort so far this year where everybody has each other’s back.”
The Philadelphia Eagles will need some solid play from its defense as the season opens on Sunday, Sept. 9 against the Cleveland Browns at 1 p.m. (Fox Channel 29). Akeem Jordan, Eagles starting weakside linebacker, will figure heavily in their plans to shut down the Browns offense.
“It’s our first game,” Jordan said. “Everybody is excited about getting out there. We want to show what we got. It’s exciting to be out there playing defense. I’m just ready to have fun and go out there and play ball.”
That’s exactly what Jordan does for the Eagles. He goes out there and plays his game. This is his sixth year in Philly. He’s played all three linebacker positions as well as special teams. Jordan is a one of the team’s best tacklers. He had 32 total and 26 solo tackles last season. In addition, he led the team with 14 special teams tackles. He had a team-high four special teams tackles against the Arizona Cardinals.
Jordan was consistent during the preseason. He had seven total and five solo tackles. Jordan always seems to be in the right place. He grew up in Harrisonburg, Va., which happens to be the same hometown as former Virginia and NBA star Ralph Sampson, who was just inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. Jordan was an All-State linebacker and running back coming out of Harrisonburg High School. He led his high school team to the state championship in his junior year.
He has one of the best nicknames on the team. Here’s a hint. It’s similar to basketball Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon’s nickname. Jordan picked it up in his hometown.
“When I was little in elementary school, they used to call me, ‘Akeem the Dream,’” Jordan said. “They just cut it down to “Dream” up here.”
Jordan is more than a dream. He’s an inspiration to a lot of players who didn’t get drafted. Jordan played four years at FCS James Madison University. He led the Dukes to the NCAA championship in 2004.
In 2007, he became the first player from James Madison to land a starting position in a NFL game since wide receiver Macey Brooks started three games for the Chicago Bears in 2000. He became one of five ex-JMU players to start in the NFL including wide receiver Gary Clark, defensive end Charles Haley, tight end Ed Perry and Brooks.
He was able to accomplish all these things as an undrafted free agent. Jordan will be playing with a good linebacking corps, which includes DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Jamar Chaney and Brian Rolle.