Coming into training camp, one position group was considered to be a cause of concern due to the departure of Michael Bennet and Chris Long. Bennet was traded to the New England Patriots along with a 2020 seventh-round pick for a 2020 fifth-round pick. The trade wasn’t so surprising with all the rumors of him being shopped due to the Eagles’ efforts of clearing cap space.
As for Chris Long, he held out until he knew for sure the Eagles’ wouldn’t give him his role back. The retirement was a hard one for Eagles’ fans due to the inseparable bond fans had with their defensive end. From the outside looking in, it was a bit of a surprise that the Eagles’ didn’t have a role for a very efficient player. One that was very instrumental to their success over the past two years.
Why wasn’t Long’s role offered back to him? Apparently, Connor Barwin has been looking for that same role but the Eagles’ haven’t promised him anything which is another odd on the teams part. The team has hesitated when it comes to adding to their edge rushers since the signing of Vinny Curry. Now with a depth chart of Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and Vinny Curry; the Eagles look to be expecting their young rushers to step up this offseason.
Josh Sweat is apparently the front runner for the fourth DE spot on the depth chart and why not? Sweat only had 14.5 sacks during this college tenure at Florida State. What stands out for the former 4th round pick of the Eagles is his incredible natural ability and his 4.52 speed at the combine. Unfortunately his season last year was cut short due to his lingering knee injury out of college and an unfortunate ankle injury as well.
So far during training camp, Sweat has received praise from veteran teammates in regards to his ability and expectations. Brandon Graham acknowledged the buzz around his young teammates and stated how excited he is for Sweat this season. Lane Johnson went as far as comparing Sweat to Jadeveon Clowney in regards to his speed and ability.
Defensive coordinator Jim Scwartz spoke glowingly of Sweat’s physical dominance after a practice recently.
“He’s strong as can be. He played two-gap at Florida State. I mean, you look at him, he looks like a 400-meter sprinter.” Schwartz said. “He was legs wide, squared up, doing those kind of things. He has some of the strongest hands of all our defensive linemen, which then you start putting him into situations where he can use his speed a little bit more. It’s a bonus that a lot of other guys don’t have. He’s very strong. We feel strongly about him stopping the run.”
Sweat’s preseason debut flashed much of the same. Lining up over Taylor Lewan is no easy task, but Sweat bullied him for the majority of the night. He didn’t flash in the way Daeshon Hall did, but his opponent was of a higher caliber and he paved the way for much of that early run defense dominance we saw.
Sweat also mentioned that while rehabbing his injury, he’s also added on weight. Sweat has bulked up fro his sophomore season in hopes to make an immediate impact for his team. Upon adding about 20 more pounds, Sweat did mention that he feels a whole lot more explosive than he once was and he also feels stronger this time around.
In regards to expectations, Sweat mentioned that his only expectation is to get to play. He feels if he can play more then he’ll be able to show the world what he can do. With so much hype surrounding the FSU product, Eagles fans everywhere are breaking into a sweat thinking about his potential. If he can come close to matching it, he could have a huge role to play in 2019.
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