First-year defensive end Phillip Hunt led the Canadian Football League in sacks last year. Now, the 244-pound speed-rusher is looking to make an impact at the NFL level, as injuries to Juqua Parker and Trent Cole have propelled him into a key role on defense.
With Parker and Cole not guaranteed to suit up Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, Hunt could be the only reserve at the position behind the league's leader in sacks in Jason Babin and Darryl Tapp, who is expected to return to the lineup after missing the past three games with a pectoral strain.
The former Winnipeg Blue Bomber is looking forward to the opportunity.
"This is a chance for me to step up and make the most of the opportunity that's been given to me," Hunt said. "I think I can help this team. I played well last week against San Francisco, but there are some areas in which I could improve. The key for me is to bring intensity and a high-motor on every snap so I can make plays and help this team win games."
The all-time sack leader at the University of Houston is confident that the Eagles' run defense will make the necessary adjustments and play the way they know they can play.
"We're working on tackling, gap responsibility, making plays," Hunt said. "I'm confident that anyone on this defense can go out and make plays. We all need to get better and, most importantly, be more consistent."
In addition to the injuries to Parker and Cole, the Eagles defense suffered a devastating blow Sunday when they lost defensive tackle Antonio Dixon to a season-ending triceps tear. In his place, the Eagles signed veteran Derek Landri, who was on the roster throughout most of training camp and the preseason.
The 290-pound Landri played collegiately at Notre Dame and has six career sacks in 51 career NFL games. Phillip Hunt discussed how the 6-2 Landri will fit into Juan Castillo's defense.
"He's a great football player," Hunt said. "He's feisty and he likes to get in there and make plays. Having players like him helps you win games. He likes to play hard, and he brings his best every snap. Derek can stop the run as well as rush the passer. I'm pretty confident in what he can do, and what we can do as a unit. We just need to be more consistent."
Hunt persevered in Canada for the opportunity to play in the NFL. Now that he has this chance, it's up to Hunt to make the most of it.
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