When it comes to tackling your opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles are more than ready for Sunday's preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.
"At this point, I don't really view any of the challenges of not being able to practice (tackling)," said Pro Bowl linebacker Connor Barwin. "My whole pretty much entire NFL career, we never really tackled in practice. We play four [preseason] games, which is plenty of time to get practice tackling. We've been playing football for 20 years, so we'll be okay."
Linebacker Mychal Kendricks has the same mindset about tackling going into the first game and is excited to get on the field and make the Colts' offense pay.
"We're all professionals," said Kendricks. "We're literally professionals at what we do just like you're professional at what you do. The learning and knowing how to tackle never really leaves. We don't have as much tackling practice in here so we're all very eager to get some contact in during our first game."
Although the team does not make heavy contact during practice, they still prepare different techniques that will benefit them on the field.
"We are big on technique," said Kendricks. "That's our main focus and your ability will follow through. It's not just knowing how to tackle but knowing how to tackle correctly and that makes a slower process. That may take a walkthrough, that may take putting your head on the right side and slowly going through the motion instead of just going and hitting somebody. It's very methodical and it's very planned out and it's very technical."
In terms of tackling, the linebackers are hoping that Sunday's game is an opportunity to learn and get a better idea of what they need to work on for the regular season games.
"I think, like you just mentioned, we'll be able to tackle, which is nice. But again, you just prepare like a regular game," said Barwin. "Go in there, play your 10 to 20 plays as good as you can. Then go and look back and evaluate it like you would in the regular season. That kind of just gets you in the routine of playing games."
The coaches are looking forward to watching their defense make contact too. This is the coaches' chance to see who is ready and who had room for improvement.
"I'm looking for the tackling piece, to me, because you don't see that. The communication, when the lights are on, who can communicate. I tell the guys all the time, it's about evaluating your ability combined with your coachability. In defense, playing great defense is 11 guys playing as one," said Defensive Coordinator Bill Davis earlier this week. "You don't have to give us a bunch of 'Wow' plays to impress us. We have to see that the defense as a whole, the 11 guys, are doing what they are supposed to do."
As a whole, the defense is hoping that the preseason will get them where they want to be in time for the first game on September 14.
"I'm just hoping that we get a good look and some good practice," said Barwin. "That's what this preseason is for; to lube up the bearings and get things going so we can become the well-oiled machine that we need to be."