Just before the Eagles took the field at The Linc for the first time in 2019 as part of the one and only open practice, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz spoke to the media, and gave some injury updates and talked a bit about the state of the linebacker position.
On Kamu and the LBs
Twenty minutes before the defensive coordinator took the podium, we learned that LB Kamu Grugier-Hill’s official injury status is out “multiple weeks” with a knee sprain.
Schwartz said that they’ll deal with Kamu’s injury like they do with any other position and that’s to train up the depth. He noted that it’s still early enough in training camp that there will be plenty of opportunities for people to show that they can be trusted to step into that role — but the good news is that they’ll have Grugier-Hill back at some point.
The DC also noted that with Nigel Bradham yet to return to practice, there’s been other opportunities for guys to step into that role too. But, Schwartz didn’t seem too concerned, reminding people that there are still a couple of players from last year and rookies, not to mention some of the veterans they’ve brought in like L.J. Fort and Zach Brown.
He said that all those guys have been doing good things so far in training camp, and the biggest thing will be after the preseason to figure out where they all best fit on the field and who can handle the role that’s required of them.
Schwartz admitted that it still hurts to lose Kamu for however long he’s out, just because he’s been having a really good camp so far and was one of those guys that has really developed and shown a mastery of what they’re doing.
He was asked about certain pairings that they’ve worked with so far during camp, but Schwartz noted that it doesn’t have anything to do with complimenting each other, just a way of getting everyone some reps.
The DC also talked about how they won some important games down the stretch last season with Nate Gerry, and him getting those first team reps through this offseason has just bolstered what he can do. But they have confidence in Gerry and he has confidence in himself in a starting role.
He also mentioned that he’s not yet concerned about not having some of the injured players once the regular season starts, especially because they are guys who have proven their worth in the NFL and they know how to get prepared. It’ll just be a matter of getting them enough reps to shake off the rust, but we’re still a little ways out from Schwartz being worried.
On new secondary acquisitions
Schwartz said that they’re going to plug newly signed safety Johnathan Cyprien in at a lot of different spots. He noted that they expect a lot from their safeties and need multi-dimensional guys in those roles, but that they do think Cyprien has that ability.
The DC acknowledged that it’s tough coming in after they’ve already had 5 practices, but Cyprien is a veteran and it’s moreso a matter of learning the technology and picking up the scheme. Schwartz said that he hopes within the next couple of days that the safety is able to really show them what he can do and how he can help that position group.
Schwartz went on to talk about how the safety position has always been important, but is increasingly so over the past couple of seasons. He quipped that it takes half a second watching the “Path to the Draft” and programs like that to hear people talking about mismatched tight ends and offensive weapons, but if you have multi-dimensional secondary players you are able to mitigate that a bit.
Schwartz mentioned that he has to learn what the cornerback position is going to look like, but once things go live and they face an offense — like in the preseason — is when he’ll get a real sense of what they can do.
He did say that the first day of live tackling isn’t always pretty, but that it’s a combination of tackling and getting the communication sorted out, and they’ll have opportunities to improve on both aspects during the preseason.
The DC mentioned that the open practice is a nice change of pace for the players, gives some of the younger guys an opportunity to check out The Linc and where their locker would be, and also allows them to practice their communication a bit in a louder environment.