For the first time this season, quarterback Thad Lewis will be active on Sunday. He hasn't seen the field in a game since the 2013 season and he likely won't see the field this weekend. But, if Lewis is needed he'll be ready to go, just like he was in his first NFL start as a member of the Cleveland Browns at the end of the 2012 season.
"It was fun. The whole preparation, the whole week of preparation for the Steelers, them being the No. 1 defense, the rivalry with the Browns and me playing at Heinz Field, kid from Miami whose first NFL start 16 degrees in the snow, but it was interesting," Lewis said on this week's Eagles Insider Podcast. "The game was 10-10 going into the fourth quarter, so we obviously had a chance to win. We fell short, 24-10, but it was an experience. I think if I didn't play well in that game, I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you. Hats off to Pat Shurmur for giving me the opportunity."
Lewis has had an interesting NFL career to say the least. He's been with five different teams, beginning his journey with the Rams. He signed with the team after going undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft, the same year St. Louis selected Sam Bradford with the No. 1 overall pick.
Remembering the draft process is still a whirlwind for Lewis, but he knows that day marked the start of his career. Being in the NFL was his dream and after spending four years at Duke as a starter, he was able to achieve exactly what he wanted.
"My draft process was simple. I kind of knew I wasn't going to get drafted," Lewis said. "Me and Drew Rosenhaus discussed things like, 'Ok. It might be this team, it might be that team.' They were saying the Eagles liked me and they might take me in the fourth. Things like that. I didn't get a call until the seventh round and it was a former guy that worked at Duke that called me who worked for the St. Louis Rams and said, 'Did anybody call you yet?'
"If I had known the game back then I would have said, 'Yes. Somebody called me and they said they're going to draft me with the next pick,' and I could have got drafted. I didn't know what was going on. I told him, 'No, nobody's called me,' and he said, 'If nobody drafts you in the seventh round we're going to sign you to a free-agent contract for $2,500 dollars and we're going to bring you in.' That was my one and only call and my one and only opportunity to get in this league and I had to make the best of it."
Also on the Eagles Insider Podcast:
Three-and-Out from 6:00-16:53
Enemy Intel from 31:55-37:30
Game Time from 37:38-46:00
Mailing It In from 46:15-59:42
Each week, Fran Duffy and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell take an in-depth look at the All-22 tape from the week prior, breaking down what worked, what didn't and what lies ahead for the Eagles. In this week's Eagle Eye in the Sky Podcast, the two talked briefly about Philadelphia's 20-19 loss to the Dolphins and previewed Sunday's game against the Buccaneers.
The two focused most of the show on the road ahead for the 4-5 Eagles, who sit just a half-game back of the division-leading Giants with seven games left to play.
"It was really, really a tough loss to watch, and when that game ended, you and I kind of looked at each other and couldn't believe what we just saw," Cosell said to Duffy early in the show. "Let's just hope that this loss isn't the one that keeps them out of the playoffs, because they're still very much in the playoff picture since the NFC East is a very weak division this year."
But if the Eagles expect to vie for a playoff spot come January, getting a win this coming Sunday against the 4-5 Buccaneers will be crucial. Tampa Bay is starting rookie Jameis Winston at quarterback. The first overall pick out of Florida State presents an interesting challenge for the Eagles' defense. In nine games, he's thrown for 2,159 yards with a 57.5 percent completion rate, tossing 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions in the process. He's passed for just one touchdown in the Buccaneers' last three games, but has rushed for a touchdown in each one.
"It would not surprise me to see the Eagles up their blitz frequency this week," Cosell said. "I think you want to get Winston to have to move, because he does not move well in the pocket."
Duffy chimed in, adding, "This is a team that's not afraid to throw down the field. They take a lot of vertical shots with (wide receiver) Mike Evans, and that's really his game. It's not necessarily a lot of the quick stuff. It's deep digs, deep go routes, deep comebacks and back-shoulder is big part of what they do as well. So that's something that the Eagles' secondary will have to deal with."
At the 24-minute mark of the show, former Eagles linebacker Ike Reese joined the show to talk about what it's like to play within different blitz schemes. To close things out, Fran Duffy was joined by NFL Draft expert Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net, and the two looked ahead to the Senior Bowl and the 2016 NFL Draft. That begins at the 33-minute mark of the podcast.
On a new episode of the Journey to the Draft Podcast, Alex Smith and Fran Duffy recapped last weekend's college football games and highlighted six 2016 NFL Draft prospects as part of their Pick Six feature. After talking about general draft buzz for the first 30-plus minutes of the podcast, the two talked at length about the following six players:
QB Jacoby Brissett, N.C. State
Fifth-year senior Jacoby Brissett is an interesting prospect. Playing in N.C. State's spread offense, his outstanding athleticism, keen ability to keep plays alive and solid arm have made him one of the more impressive quarterbacks in college this season. The 6-4 signal-caller has thrown for 2,007 yards with 15 touchdowns and two interceptions entering this week to go along with 166 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He is likely to be selected in the second or third round of the 2016 Draft.
DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State
Junior defensive end Joey Bosa is having a monster season for the Buckeyes, notching 40 tackles, 15 of which have come for loss, and four sacks through the first nine games. At 6-6, 275 pounds, Bosa has the size of a 3-4 end, but the pass-rushing ability needed to play on the outside of Ohio State's 4-3 front. He's projected to go top 10 if he forgoes his senior season in Columbus.
DE Dadi Nicolas, Virginia Tech
After notching 71 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks as a junior at Virginia Tech, Dadi Nicolas has just accumulated just 34 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and one sack through the first 10 games this season. Still, despite the senior defensive end's drop in production, he's still considered one of the better pass-rushing prospects in this year's class.
LB De'Vondre Campbell, Nebraska
A linebacker with throwback size (6-4, 241 pounds), De'Vondre Campbell has amassed 66 tackles for Minnesota through the first 10 games. The former community college transfer is considered a late-round target.
S Eddie Jackson, Alabama
Junior Eddie Jackson has been one of the biggest playmakers in the country on the defensive side of the ball. Through the first 10 games, the ballhawking safety has intercepted five passes, returning them an average of 46.0 yards. At 6-0 and just 175 pounds, Jackson will need to add some bulk to play safety at the next level, but if he decides to come out after this season he'll likely be selected on Day Two.
S Deon Bush, Miami
In the past, it seemed like Miami sent more pro-caliber safeties to the NFL than any other school in the country. And although "The U" hasn't sent a safety to the pros since Kenny Phillips in 2008, that will likely change this year with Deon Bush. At 6-1, 205 pounds, he has the size, athleticism, physicality, and ball skills to thrive at the next level.