On his way to becoming one of the newest Eagles, seventh-round draft pick defensive tackle Jeff Owens got a little help from a familiar face to Eagles fans.
In preparation for the NFL draft following his senior season at Georgia, Owens spent a lot of time working closely with Pete Jenkins, the Eagles defensive line coach for three seasons from 2006-2008. Jenkins, who retired following the 2008 season, prepared Owens for the jump from college football to the NFL.
"He helped me with the technique and how to play," Owens said, when asked what he learned from Jenkins, "just the style and telling me about the rules and regulations of the NFL; some things to look for and what to do and what not to do.
"I just want to thank Coach Jenkins for the help he gave and the support, and I love him to death."
Clearly Jenkins had an impact on Owens, and, in turn, on the Eagles' higher-ups.
"Pete taught him all the hand stuff," said head coach Andy Reid of Owens. "Then you saw (the progress) down at the Senior Bowl."
Of course, there's much more to Owens than his relationship with Jenkins. Owens, 6-foot-1, 304 pounds, is a self-proclaimed "physical player," and he's got the credentials to prove it - his 44 bench press reps of 225 pounds during the NFL scouting combine were tops among defensive linemen (five more than the second-place presser), and second only to Arkansas offensive lineman Mitch Petrus' 45 reps.
"I play with a lot of power, a lot of strength," Owens said. "I try to use a lot of leverage, use a lot of my strength to make plays.
"I'm just a player who likes to get after it. I love to compete. I love the challenge of coming from the bottom, or working from the bottom, and working my way to the top. I just want to come in shape, get in camp and just try to prove myself."
If there were a checklist of characteristics the Eagles appeared to be looking for in the 2010 draft, Owens might fit them all.
High-effort player who's a leader on and off the field? Owens was a captain his senior year at Georgia and received the David Jacobs award, an award given to the player who, by example, portrays courage, spirit, character and determination.
"I'm just glad that my teammates thought of me as a captain and I'm honored that I had the opportunity to play at the University of Georgia and just be a leader there," Owens said.
Owens also fits the mold of prospects who were perhaps undervalued because of an injury. The reason Owens won the aforementioned David James award is because of his tenacity fighting back from a torn right ACL suffered in the first game of the 2008 season.
"I got hurt in the first game of my (fourth year), fought back and got my starting position back and just kept competing and tried to be a leader, a role model to the young guys and just tried to help people try to be successful," he said.
Also like most of the Eagles' draft picks, Owens spent his college career competing against elite competition.
"Oh man, you know the (Southeastern Conference) is the toughest conference in the nation," said Owens, who is one of five Eagles' draft picks from the SEC. "It's a battle week in and week out."
In fact, Owens is actually good friends with seventh-round linebacker Jamar Chaney and sixth-round running back Charles Scott. He said he's been in constant contact with both of them, checking to make sure that everyone is ready to hit the ground running when they get to Philadelphia to compete for a coveted spot on the final 53-man roster.
At defensive tackle, Owens joins the ranks that include presumptive starters Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson, along with Trevor Laws, Antonio Dixon and rookie free agent Charles Alexander. The Eagles have re-made the defensive line in a matter of months, and Owens will be competing for either four or five spots at tackle.
Owens knows the task will be difficult, but he says he'll do whatever it takes to continue doing what he loves.
"I've been playing football since 1991," he said. "It's my favorite pastime. It's something I love to do and it's something I'm going to keep doing and I just can't wait to put on that Eagles jersey and just run out there on that field and give it my all for the Eagles fans."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 5:22 p.m., April 28