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Eagles Rookie Report Card: Jalen Carter does his best Aaron Donald impression

Los Angeles Rams vs Philadelphia Eagles Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Eagles advanced to 5-0 after beating a scrappy Rams team on the road in Los Angeles. This was arguably the team’s most complete win, with great plays coming from offense, defense and special teams. Also, the Eagles can’t ignore contributions from their top rookie...

Jalen Carter: A+

It was bound to happen with Aaron Donald on the other sideline. Sunday had a real passing of the torch energy to it with Donald held to 0 sacks or QB hits while Jalen Carter was a one-man wrecking crew against the Rams.

The Eagles needed a big game from Carter while Fletcher Cox sat out the game with an injury. The ninth overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft played 70% of the defensive snaps, sacking Matt Stafford twice despite drawing a ton of attention from the Rams. Carter’s gravitational pull as a defensive lineman opens so many opportunities for his teammates, creating one on one snaps for Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat on the outside and opening holes for blitzing linebackers. It is hard to overstate how advanced his play is only five games into his NFL career and the monumental impact he’s making.

For those keeping track at home, Carter has 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles through five games this season. The rookie defensive tackle is on a double digit sack pace. Since sacks became a recorded stat in 1982, only 36 rookies have crossed the double digit threshold. Of those 36, only two were true defensive tackles: Kevin Williams and Ndamukong Suh. Needless to say, Carter is as-advertised.

Eli Ricks: C

The Eagles are in a tough spot right now at the cornerback position. Avonte Maddox has proven to be very difficult to replace this early in the season and that challenge is being felt by the Eagles youngest players. First the team tried Mario Goodrich in the slot, which went poorly early in the season. Then they tried sliding James Bradberry in the slot and having Josh Jobe play outside, which also did not go over great against Minnesota, Tampa, and Washington. Against the Rams, they had undrafted rookie line up in the slot and rotated him with Goodrich.

Eli Ricks had a very strong preseason, but it is hard to expect much in his first regular season action when he’s lining up across from Cooper Kupp and standout rookie, Puka Nacua. Ricks understandably struggled and it simply was just not a great position for him to be in.

It is unclear how the Eagles will proceed at cornerback. Bradley Roby looked solid in his first action and might come on with more time. This should take pressure off the younger guys. Otherwise, the Eagles might need to rely on Ricks some more going forward.

The Rest

  • Kelee Ringo not getting defensive snaps despite cornerback problems is notable. It indicates the team sees him as a pure outside cornerback and probably still too raw to be relied on yet.
  • Nolan Smith’s role was still quite small against the Rams and he didn’t make much of an impact.
  • Moro Ojomo suited up for his first NFL game and saw the first defensive snaps of his NFL career. Fletcher Cox’s injury meant the Eagles needed to bring him up for depth reasons. Congratulations to Moro Ojomo!
  • Tyler Steen also suited up for his first NFL game and played a few special team snaps. The Cam Jurgens injury meant Steen would need to suit up and provide more offensive line depth. Sua Opeta filled in for Jurgens and played very well, meaning Steen won’t be rushed into duty at this stage in his career. Congratulations to Tyler Steen on his first NFL regular season game. Many more to come.
  • Sydney Brown was out for the second straight week. The safety position looked to be in good hands with Reed Blankenship and Justin Evans playing a solid game against Los Angeles. Brown might be the third safety over Terrell Edmunds when he returns.

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