The developmental rookie season for defensive end Josh Sweat just accelerated into Phase 2. With starting end Derek Barnett ruled “out” for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings with a shoulder injury, Sweat is likely to not only be active on Sunday but to be called on to take his first NFL regular-season game reps.
A fourth-round draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Sweat impressed in the preseason with his quickness off the line of scrimmage and his ability to get off of blocks and get to the football.
“I’m ready to go. I’ve been practicing hard. Since I’ve been here I’ve been practicing and waiting for that opportunity,” Sweat said. “It may be actually coming.”
The Eagles have some options to replace Barnett. They can move veteran Michael Bennett into a starting role opposite Brandon Graham and they can also increase Chris Long’s role in the defensive end rotation. Somewhere in the mix is Sweat, a rangy 6-5, 251-pounder from Florida State who was the 130th overall pick in the draft.
“My biggest thing is just getting my eyes to the right spot. Sometimes, I’m a young guy trying to make plays and stuff and you’re looking everywhere. That’s my biggest thing,” Sweat said. “Other than that, extending my arms, locking people out.”
Sweat was active for the Colts game, but he did not play. He’s done his work in practice working against the likes of Jason Peters as a member of the scout team. He said he hasn’t been frustrated and has instead applied himself on the practice field and in the classroom.
Now he’s got to take what he’s done on the practice field to gameday.
“Even when I’m on scout team, I’m supposed to be giving a look as (a member of) the other team, but within the framework, I’m working my technique that I’m taught and a lot of times I have the freedom to do it. I get to go against Pro Bowlers every day. Some people don’t look at it that way. I’m looking at it as the game, honestly.”
Sweat says he is a totally different player than the one the Eagles drafted, citing his technique, his explosiveness, and his knowledge of the game. All of that will come in handy on Sunday against a veteran Minnesota offensive line and a powerful offense.
“It’s what I’m here for,” Sweat said. “I’m ready if they call my number.”