Eagles top pass rusher has been fighting through a thumb injury to start the 2023 season

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Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick reacts following an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the New York Giants, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Eagles won 38-7. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

It’s been strange not seeing Eagles star Haason Reddick channeling Commodus with a thumb’s down after sacking the opposing quarterback. He has been fighting through a freak injury following surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb during training camp.

Reddick has been playing with a brace on the fixed digit, perhaps the main culprit behind his slow start, and he’s still searching for his first sack. He has only one quarterback hit and three pressures on 97 defensive snaps. Obviously, the one-time Pro Bowler hasn’t been 100 percent.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 12: Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick (7) prepares to rush during pre-season game between the New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles on August 12, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

“Man, he’s been so gritty and so tough. His play temperament is there,” defensive coordinator Sean Desai told reporters. “You see him knock people back at the point of attack in the run game and even converting in the pass game, and he’s getting there.”

Reddick, who exploded for a career-high 16 sacks with the Eagles in 2022, hasn’t been helped by the fact that teams are doubling teaming him and throwing chip blocks at him. Tight ends are staying home to account for his insane athleticism off the edge (see: Pharoah Brown). Desai went so far as to admit that he needs to do a better job of moving Reddick around the formation. He needs to put him in a better position to exploit matchups.

Desai said: “He is getting around this quarterback, and he won’t take it this way, but it’s a compliment to him that people are addressing him in terms of chippers and getting people around him, and it’s our job and my job in the role I’m in to help him, to get him in different matchups, different situations, move him around. We’ll continue to do better at that for him.”

Eagles DE Josh Sweat Thriving, Showing Up in Run Game

PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 13: New Orleans Saints Quarterback Taysom Hill (7) scrambles from Philadelphia Eagles Defensive End Josh Sweat (94) in the second half during the game between the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles on December 13, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Defensive end Josh Sweat has arguably been the best player on the defensive side of the ball through two games. His 1.5 sacks is tied for the team lead, alongside defensive tackle Jordan Davis, and Sweat’s commitment to stopping the run has really impressed the coaching staff.

“He has been really physical in the run game, too,” Desai said. “I think that’s all those guys up front have been really physical in the run game and goes back to your question of whatever we are ranked on the run defense. That is that palpable feeling. You have to set that tone, and our guys know that. We have to make sure we eliminate something.”

Sweat, who was robbed of a Pro Bowl nod in 2022, has been the most disruptive force on a deep and talented defensive line. It’s way too early to say this – remember, the Eagles have played just eight quarters to date – but the 265-pounder could be in the mix for Defensive Player of the Year honors if he keeps it up. (Yes, Micah Parsons looks unstoppable). Still, throw some respect on Sweat’s name. He recorded eight pressures in 31 pass-rushing opportunities against Minnesota, including four hits on Kirk Cousins and a strip-sack fumble recovered by Fletcher Cox.

“I’ve been winning at a higher rate,” Sweat told reporters last week. “I don’t care who’s out there. I’ve got to keep going. Whoever is out there, I’m trying to beat you.”

AP Photo/Chris Szagola