Linebacker Brandon Graham and safety Nate Allen were the Eagles' first two picks in the 2010 NFL Draft. They were the first pair of defensive rookies to start on opening day since 1983.
Graham recorded three sacks as a rookie. Allen was the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month in the first month of his career.
The Eagles went 10-6 and won the NFC East title that year, but neither Graham or Allen got to play in the playoffs. Graham's season ended that season in Dallas when he tore his ACL. One week after Graham suffered his injury, Allen tore his patellar tendon and he, too, was done for the season.
"It was tough," Allen recalled on Wednesday. "I was a rookie and I got hurt in Week 15 right before the season was about to be over and we were about to go into the postseason. It was a tough thing, but you learn from everything and it just makes me appreciate it more now. It was frustrating but you have to move on from that."
Graham didn't think it would take three years to get back, but on Sunday the Eagles captured the NFC East title on the same field where Graham suffered his knee injury.
"Man, it's definitely going to be fun. I'm excited. It's the playoffs. Everybody's re-energized," Graham said. "I'm just excited to be in there. We fought to be here and now it's time to go win and get this ring."
After spending his first three seasons as a defensive end, Graham made the transition to linebacker this year and as a reserve has posted 21 tackles and three sacks. Graham's best season was in 2012 when he had 50 tackles and 5.5 sacks.
Allen, meanwhile, started all 16 games for the first time in his career and registered a career-high 94 tackles to go along with a sack and an interception. He, too, is excited for the postseason, but head coach Chip Kelly's message to the team is to not change the routine.
"That's something that we keep harping on is that we're not going to change anything up," Allen said. "We're going to keep being us, not matter what it is. Obviously, we know the significance of every game from here on out and what it means and where we are, but we're going to prepare the same way that we have been."
The wait for a return trip to the playoffs will hopefully pay off on Saturday night.