Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz spoke to the media after training camp practice on Tuesday and gave a lot of insight into individual players.
Here’s what he had to say:
On specific players and development
He was asked about Rasul Douglas coming back this spring looking a little bigger than before and what kind of role they see him playing this season.
“All our guys need to be multi-dimensional. He’s not going to take any safety reps in training camp, and he only did last year because it was an all-hands-on-deck emergency-type situation where he had to go in and play safety. He has played a little bit of nickel, which is something he hasn’t done in the past. But, when [Cre’Von LeBlanc] got hurt, our nickel numbers went down and he stepped in.”
The DC also said that he wasn’t sure that Douglas was any bigger right now, but he is well-conditioned, playing with confidence and those are things you see from guys who are in their third year.
Schwartz later emphasized that the biggest difference from last year to this year for Douglas was his confidence — but was adamant, that even though he was a starter, he had a role and it showed in that first game when he took the field and got an interception.
Schwartz was also asked about what the next step for Kamu Grugier-Hill:
“I don’t know. I mean, everybody has different things that they’re working on, different things they’re trying to keep polishing and different things they’re trying to fill.
But I think Kamu over the course of the last two years, has become better versus blockers, he’s become more of a physical presence inside. I mean, everybody knows the athletic ability that he had, but he was always sort of considered a hybrid player or a light player, I think he’s taking a big step to being a full-time linebacker.
And when I say full-time, I don’t mean being on the field all the time. But I mean can play inside, can play outside, can take on a guard, can step up and fill a run play — all those kind of things. His understanding of defenses is really good too.”
He was also asked about Timmy Jernigan and how he looks after coming back from injury. Schwartz didn’t want to comment about any of the injury stuff, but did say that he looks just as good, if not better, than he’s seen him in the past.
The DC also noted that Jernigan is another guy who hadn’t played the Eagles’ style of defense prior to coming to Philadelphia — meaning attack up front — and it takes guys time to get into that. But, Timmy has been very disruptive and has been winning a lot of 1-on-1’s in their pass rush drills.
“He’s made a couple on the ball and I think that’s a big thing. He’s also been available for us, he’s been out there everyday.
The first year of his career he wasn't, but last year he was in and out of the lineup so much in training camp it was really hard for him to get that good run of experience and build that accumulation of steps.
Even though he didn’t take any reps his first training camp, he did a lot of watching, he did a lot of learning, so you’re talking about another guy that’s third year in the system and gaining confidence in the system, gaining confidence in the system.
Schwartz was also asked whether Jones’ physicality would be an issue since he doesn’t have “that kind of build” and the DC was quick to note that he’s had his fair share of physical moments — including a big play against the Colts last year — despite being on the thinner side.
Schwartz quipped that Zach Brown’s role right now is “training camp”, and that’s just doing whatever is needed from being an inside linebacker to outside linebacker. Roles and the depth chart will be determined by what happens in training camp at the end, so none of that is decided yet.
Later, the DC was asked about how Brown is picking up the system and how he might fit in.
“He’s a really instinctive player. We saw that in the spring when he dropped right off onto the practice field, and really didn’t any of our terminology, but was able to go out and execute just because he’s savvy and sort of been around a bunch, and stuff like that.
Really instinctive, he’s multi-dimensional. He’s a heavy blitzer, he’s good in the box, he’s got really good speed on the outside of the box. And, if he can keep showing those things for us, he’ll have a role.”
Schwartz said that Joe Ostman has been rushing the quarterback well so far, and has also been doing a lot of work on special teams. It’s hard to gauge getting to the QB during practice since they can’t actually finish tackles, but he’s looked good and they anticipate seeing the same things during the preseason when he can be a bit more physical.
He was asked about Fletcher Cox’s recovery and how he’s mentally handling being on the sideline. Schwartz noted that everyone probably hears him more, yelling from the sideline and is still involved in practice. But all the guys working their way back from injury are doing that as well.