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‘Gonna Wreck Things’: Eagles Sack-Hungry D-Line Sets Lofty Goal


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‘Gonna Wreck Things’: Eagles Sack-Hungry D-Line Sets Lofty Goal

  • Updated Aug 25, 2021 at 4:35pm
Javon Hargrave

Getty: Eagles DT Javon Hargrave notched a career-high 6.5 sacks in 2018 and hopes to match that in 2021.

Javon Hargrave suffered a freak pectoral injury that sidelined him for the duration of 2020 training camp. The Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive tackle didn’t put the pads on until Week 2 and didn’t record his first sack (half a one) until Week 4. Rest assured, the hulking 305-pounder is looking to make up for lost time.

"I’m just in more shape for one because I’m playing football,” Hargrave told reporters on Wednesday. "Like I said, I was sitting out the whole camp last year and my first time putting on pads was Game 2. So I’m just here getting reps and getting better.”

Hargrave admitted it was frustrating to sit out that long. The former Pittsburgh Steeler felt helpless and alone, the new kid on the block who could barely introduce himself to his Philly teammates due to social distancing protocols. He wasn’t allowed to lift or hit the gym while rehabbing from injury.

"Nothing,” Hargrave said. "I was just sitting there, gaining weight.”


Fast forward to 2021. Hargrave came to camp at full strength, 100-percent healthy and ready to wreak havoc. He has arguably been the best player in the trenches – apologies to Fletcher Cox – and a perfect fit in defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s hybrid scheme that uses pass rushers like chess pieces. Defensive ends and tackles are interchangeable, one gap or two gap. The Eagles’ defensive line is going to "wreck things this year.”

"Certain schemes, we can just put a little bit of our flavor to it,” Hargrave said. "I kind of played in both defenses before so it’s just real natural, kind of to me.”


As far as individual goals, expect to see the $39 million man match or top his career-high of 6.5 sacks from 2018.

"Of course,” Hargrave said of setting a new career-high in sacks. "I feel like it’s attainable in any defense. I’m just working at having one of my best years defensively this year.”

Brandon Graham: ‘I Feel I Can Go Harder’

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni has been criticized for incredibly short practices – 1 hour, 30 minutes on average – and a failure to get his starters reps in preseason games. That trend is likely to continue heading into Friday night’s exhibition finale after a physically-jarring, fast-paced practice on Wednesday.

"We’re still talking through that. Still evaluating,” Sirianni said of the starters playing on Friday. "Yesterday [Tuesday] was great work. Got really good work. Guys are sore. We know that.”



Those outside the building don’t think the Eagles have seen enough live reps to survive Week 1. But the players feel differently about the relaxed approach, pointing to two competitive joint practices with the New England Patriots and New York Jets in consecutive weeks. The limited reps the first-teamers have seen mean something, according to Brandon Graham.

"I feel like I can go harder. I don’t have to save anything because I know we are still working but it’s not as taxing,” the Pro Bowl defensive end said. "Sometimes you save yourself a little bit so that you can make sure you make it through the whole practice. I feel like every practice that we’ve had I feel like I can just go. Limited reps but those reps mean something.”


Health has been given top priority due to previous preseasons filled with front-line injuries. Key starters like Miles Sanders, Derek Barnett, Javon Hargrave, Lane Johnson all missed the Week 1 opener in 2020.

"He’s trying to make sure we get to Week 1 because you know in the past injuries have happened for this team, and so you gotta take a different approach,” Graham said. "He’s a new coach and he wants to take a different approach, in trying to make sure we are the healthiest and the fastest we can be for Week 1.”

Sirianni Won’t Name Starting Left Tackle

Jordan Mailata has been the better left tackle all summer. Andre Dillard just returned from a knee injury two days ago. Yet Sirianni refuses to name a starter at the position with 18 days left until the start of the regular season.

"Andre [Dillard] just got back,” Sirianni said. "He’s working with the twos and Jordan is working with the ones.”


So the competition hasn’t been decided?

"Not decided, no,” Sirianni said.


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