May 11, 2022
The Eagles sent more of their veterans out for media availability on Wednesday.
Darius Slay, Jalen Hurts, Jason Kelce, Brandon Graham, and DeVonta Smith spoke last week.
This week, Javon Hargrave, Miles Sanders, Haason Reddick, Dallas Goedert, Jordan Mailata, and Anthony Harris all checked in.
Here were the highlights from their time with the press:
Everyone's a lot more comfortable at the NovaCare Complex now. The process of getting adjusted to a new coaching staff and its systems is over with. Now it's about building off it, and with the defense and Jonathan Gannon both entering their second year, Hargrave has already seen the growth.
"I think it's always growing. He grew as a coach, just seeing what all of us can do. We really know the defense now and know what we can be better at this year. Last year we didn't really know what we were going to be running and we were learning a new system, but this year it's more we know what's going on and what we're about to be playing."
Hargrave was a key part of the defensive line last season, starting 16 of 17 games and tying defensive end Josh Sweat for the team lead in sacks with 7.5. But the 29-year old is in a contract year, with first-round pick Jordan Davis waiting in the wings and expected to contribute immediately.
If there's any uncertainty, he said it doesn't bother him.
"I think I approach every year as a contract year in the NFL. Especially my rookie year, no guarantees or nothing like that, so every year was a contract year."
Sanders is also entering the final year of his rookie deal with his fourth season, but for now, he said his focus is on the 17 games in front of him...and maybe a new title within the locker room.
"I'm looking forward to being called a vet. I know you get vet days sometimes. I'm not really worried about the contract, not as much as you guys think I should. Just trying to keep it focused on the season and what we've got around the team. The guys that we've added...we got a great team, and we're just trying to put all the pieces together."
Sanders ran for 754 yards last season, but injuries held him to 12 games. He wasn't happy with that, nor his consistency with making reads and catching the football.
He knows he can be better.
"Taking it a little personal. Just the type of year I had last year, I wasn't nowhere near as satisfied of how I played or my availability too. All that stuff means a lot to me, being the top guy in the running back room, just gotta hold a standard and keep going with that standard. So that's being healthy and able to produce."
When an incoming NFL player wants to model their game after you, it's often a sign you're starting to get old, but a massive compliment too.
For Reddick, it's sixth-round linebacker Kyron Johnson who's hoping to emulate his game. The 27-year old pass rusher thought it was an honor.
"Most definitely. I remember being in his position and people asking me the same question, and at the time, I was trying to imitate, or I don't want to say imitate...kind of model my game after Von Miller at the time. So for him to say that about me, it's amazing. It's just a testament to my work, a testament to how far I've grown so far in the NFL."
Reddick doesn't really fit into a traditional position with the way he plays, and he knows it. When he signed with the Eagles a couple months ago, he changed his Twitter bio to "weapon."
It's probably the most fitting description.
"That's how I feel, man. I feel like I'm a weapon of mass destruction when it comes to being on the football field. I can do a lot of things differently than a lot of guys. I move differently than a lot of guys. I'm not your typical edge rusher in the way that I rush, so I just feel like I'm different from other guys that play the same position around the league."
Goedert is excited about the Brown trade like everyone else on the team. But as far as how Brown will fit into the offense with Goedert and the rest of the receivers...
"Maybe we'll be throwing the ball a little bit more?
"No, I'm not too worried about my targets. I don't think [DeVonta Smith] is too worried about his targets. I don't think A.J. is too worried about his targets. I think, collectively, we all want to win games and we're willing to do whatever it takes. He came from a heavy-run team last year (Tennessee), so I don't think anyone's too worried about it. We're just worried about getting better."
He also thinks things are going to be a lot smoother for Hurts in his second year as the full-time starting quarterback.
"I think him not having to learn another offense, him knowing the offense, he just feels more comfortable. He can tell people what he wants, he can tell people 'don't do this, because I'm looking at this first.' But ever since he's been here, he's been a tremendous leader and a hard worker. I don't see that changing I think it just continues to grow. He always has that swagger with him."
Does Mailata still have his costume from The Masked Singer?
"Nah, mate. It's somewhere backstage back in California somewhere."
Anyway, Mailata came a long way last season, starting 14 games at tackle with the Eagles en route to the playoffs, and this after three seasons' worth of learning to play the position as a pro. Not bad for a former rugby player.
But nothing in his approach or expectations is changing.
"The standard has always been high, regardless of how many years I've been a starter or wasn't a starter. I've always held myself to a high standard because of the players we have in the room, the standard that the coaches set for us, the expectations that we have to meet as players to play as an Eagle. So for me, and I guess, the rest of the locker room, we all play or try to achieve that high standard that is set early on in the building."
Mailata's success saw him jump ahead of former first-round pick Andre Dillard on the o-line depth chart, but with the way Dillard looks like right now, he seems as focused as ever on finding a role for himself.
Eagles LT Andre Dillard has transformed himself into The Mountain going into year four pic.twitter.com/LivZAFN6tY— Chris Infante (@Infante54) May 1, 2022
Mailata's definitely impressed.
"It's amazing. Dude's lean as hell."
Harris has come a long way too, entering the league as an undrafted free agent, then growing into a starting safety for the Vikings and now the Eagles.
He's back in Philadelphia on a one-year deal and is trying to use his experience to pay it forward.
"My journey of being an undrafted guy to sitting here where I'm at now, I've just been trying to help guys grow and help guys to continue to develop on and off the field, and trying to be a mentor when I can and paying it back. That's kind of been my experience. I've had veteran players, some at my same position, some in other rooms, preaching each day the mindset of competing and what that looks like and not being satisfied with not just doing your job, but doing your job, and then executing and finishing whether that's with a pass breakup...Just always looking to get better and take that next step."
Follow Nick on Twitter: @itssnick
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports