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Offseason Program Countdown: 98 Days

Posted Jan 13, 2014

Believe it or not, the beginning of the Eagles 2014 season is rapidly approaching. Players will report back to the NovaCare Complex on April 21 for the start of the Eagles offseason program. Join us as we count down until the Eagles are back in town …

Chris Polk had 98 rushing yards this season on 11 carries. On three of those 11 carries, the powerful back found his way into the end zone. In his second season with the Eagles, Polk solidified the role of short-yardage back, providing a the Eagles with a three-headed monster at the running back position along with LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown. Polk’s biggest run of the year was a 38-yard scamper to the end zone against the Detroit Lions in the Snow Bowl.

The number 98 also refers to the longest punt return in Eagles history, performed by Damaris Johnson at Dallas on December 2, 2012. It is tied for the third-longest punt return in the NFL history. The Eagles trailed the Cowboys 38-27 with 52 seconds left in the game. Johnson, knowing that the team needed quick points, decided to field the punt at his own 2-yard line. He made a couple of Cowboys miss, and used his speed to dash up the right sideline for the score.

First Player To Wear 98: End Mike Ditka (1967)

Most Recent Eagle To Wear 98: Linebacker Connor Barwin

Ditka will always be associated with his time as a Hall of Fame Player and coach of the Chicago Bears, but after six seasons as a player in the Windy City, Ditka was traded to the Eagles in 1967. Younger fans will always think about Ditka the coach before Ditka the player, but his statistics speak for themselves. He redefined the end position by becoming a prolific pass catcher. He earned NFL Rookie of The Year honors in 1961 after hauling in 56 catches and scoring 12 touchdowns.

Ditka spent two seasons with the Eagles, although he only wore 98 in 1967 (He switched to 89 in 1968). He played 20 games in an Eagles uniform, catching 39 passes for 385 yards and four touchdowns. In 1988, Iron Mike became the first tight end to ever be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is also a three-time Super Bowl champion - once as a player, once as an assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys and once as the head coach of the Bears.

2013 was Barwin’s first season in Philadelphia, and it may have been his most complete season as a pro. In his first season under defensive coordinator Bill Davis, Barwin notched a career-high 82 tackles, along with 5 sacks. He also recorded his first-career interception in Week 9 against the Oakland Raiders. Described by Davis as the “Jack” of the defense, Barwin lead all 3-4 outside linebackers in batted-down passes with 10, per Pro Football Focus, with none bigger than his final bat-down of the season against Cowboys quarterback Kyle Orton on a fourth-and-one play. Barwin also recorded a career-high 12 tackles against the Washington Redskins in Week 11.

Other Notable 98s: DT/DE Brandon Whiting (1998-2003), DT Mike Patterson (2005-2012)

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