- In his 13th NFL season, Ngata is healthy, happy, and excited to contribute to the Eagles' defense. He thinks special things are ahead.
The 12th overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is a five-time All-Pro, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, and he's won a Super Bowl. He's in his 13th NFL season and, get this, Ngata still gets a charge out of Training Camp.
"I just love everything about the game of football," Ngata said as he walked off the practice field on Saturday at the NovaCare Complex. "I love the game. I love the competition. I love the camaraderie. I love everything. That's my motivation. I just love being out here. To me, this is a lot of fun."
Ngata signed a one-year contract in free agency with the Eagles after playing for the Detroit Lions for three seasons. Previously, Ngata starred for Baltimore for nine seasons, during which he helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl in the 2012 campaign. His role is to disrupt along the Eagles' defensive line, to use his massive 6-4, 340-pound body to gulp up the running game and to provide enough push inside to help collapse the pocket and give the edge rushers clear lanes to the quarterback in the passing game.
And, yes, he is loving every bit of being an Eagle.
"The first thing you notice is that everybody wants to be here and that everyone gets along," he said. "This organization genuinely gets along, from top to bottom. That makes it a happy home. And for somebody like me, coming from another team, it helps me fit in and find my place on the team. It's been a great transition. I think we have a lot of confidence, we have a lot of guys who know what it takes and who know how to lead with hard work.
"I'd say this is a team that loves to work hard, and it shows."
Ngata's role when he signed in free agency was projected to be as a run stopper mostly on first and second down, a talent upon which he built a borderline Pro Football Hall of Fame career. But with Tim Jernigan still out with a back injury he suffered in the spring, Ngata knows he has to be ready for anything. He's been working with Fletcher Cox and is impressed with Cox's all-around blend of power and speed, but Ngata also thinks the line is versatile enough to rotate a handful of players should Jernigan be out for anything resembling a significant period of time.
"Oh, we have talent here. We have some depth, some young players who can play in this league," Ngata said. "Anything I can do to help those players, I'm going to do. The way this scheme is built and the versatility we have with players like Michael Bennett and even a young player like Derek Barnett, we can give you a lot of different looks. It's early, but it's exciting. For me, it's like being a rookie again getting to know my way around the building and around the team."
Ngata has been full go in Training Camp after missing time in the spring and after playing only five games in Detroit last year before an elbow injury ended his season.
"I feel great. I'm ready to go," he said. "I am still in my playbook learning a new defense and that's been my challenge, but it's also been enjoyable learning new ways to do things. We're going to have success here. Everything is in place. I'm glad to be part of it."
The fun never stops for Ngata, who hopes to keep it going through his 13th season in the NFL at one of the game's most demanding positions.