Philadelphia Eagles News

A Familiar Face, A Not-So-Familar Target

Before Sam Bradford returns to Philadelphia with the undefeated Minnesota Vikings, take a look at some of the key players to watch for in Sunday's game.

When the 2016 regular season schedule was released in April, there wasn't an inkling that the Eagles' defense would go head to head with its then starting, now former, quarterback Sam Bradford.

After spending a single season with Bradford, the Eagles' defense has familiarity that could weigh in as the advantage that the Eagles need to win. Now standing at 3-2, the Eagles have dropped their last two contests, both of which were on the road. The Vikings are now 5-0 and will be coming to Philadelphia fresh off of a bye week, ready to continue their win streak. So far this season, Bradford has thrown for 990 yards and six touchdowns. He hasn't turned the ball over and has the second-best quarterback rating in the NFL. In the last two games, the Eagles' defense has allowed six touchdowns.

For some, playing against a former teammate could be eerie. However, that's not the case for defensive end Connor Barwin.

"Nope. I don't think it'll be strange at all. He'll be the quarterback just like we go after every quarterback we play every week," Barwin said.

Barwin doesn't think the familiarity with Bradford gives the Eagles any advantage.

"I mean I know him like anybody else knows him. He's a pocket passer. He gets the ball out quick," Barwin said. "I know him outside of football. He's a great guy. He works hard, but I don't think that gives me really any advantage that anybody from another team doesn't know as far as he is at quarterback."

Defensive end Brandon Graham pinpointed Bradford's style and how it will be beneficial with preparation for Sunday.

"We kind of know how he moves in the pocket, so we just got to make sure we get there because Sam is playing great football right now," he said. "You know he's rallied around a great team and they look at him as their leader on the offensive side of the ball.

"We know that Sam doesn't really move around too much, but he gets the ball out just as fast. We just have to make sure we're there when they take away his first read."

Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox is currently on the hunt for his fifth sack of the season after the team was not able to get to Washington's Kirk Cousins last Sunday.

"Right now, Bradford is playing at a really high level," Cox said. "He has a lot of guys that support him and are behind him and he's just feeding off their energy. Our main goal is really just to stop him and get him off his rhythm. Disrupt some throws and just sack him."

While defensive ends Barwin and Graham are focusing on the pass rush, safety Malcolm Jenkins will patrol the backfield against the Vikings' receiving threats, tight end Kyle Rudolph and possibly Stefon Diggs, who was out for the Houston matchup with a groin injury.

"One thing we know all too well is that (Bradford) can sling the ball especially when he's upright and comfortable," Jenkins said. "He can make all of the throws. He's savvy enough to look off of safeties. He knows how to manipulate the coverage with his eyes, and he knows his playbook. He knows where his checkdowns and everything are. He's a smart, bright quarterback with a live arm.

"We expected a huge year out of Sam for us. Going into the season, I thought he was poised to really take hold of this offense and really do well in it. So, no. Seeing him in Minnesota playing as well as he is, is really no surprise."

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