Jeff Owens has been patient. After getting drafted by the Eagles in the seventh round of the 2010 draft, Owens worked hard through the off-season and training camp, making enough of an impression in a crowded defensive tackle field to be placed on the practice squad in the beginning of the season. And that's where Owens remained for 15 weeks. That is, until Tuesday, when Owens was promoted to the active roster.
"It's been tough," Owens said. "I just want to thank God for the opportunity that he's given me with the ability and the talent. I'm just glad that I got my chance to go out and prove myself.
"I just had to bide my time and be patient. I'm a rookie in the league and I'm enjoying the moment. It's a dream come true to be here and be in the NFL. A lot of guys always want this opportunity and I have this opportunity."
Owens, 6-1, 304, is known for his strength. At the combine, he posted 44 reps during the bench press, the highest total among defensive linemen and the second-highest total overall. Where Owens' strength most directly translates onto the field, according to the defensive lineman himself, is in run defense.
"My main strength is stopping the run," he said. "I'm a run stopper at first. I can push the pocket and I have very powerful strength. But I'm working on my pass rush and I think I'm becoming more of a technician, just working on my fundamentals, using my hands and being able to split the blockers and get off blocks and make plays."
On the 53-man roster, Owens is now one of five defensive tackles, along with Mike Patterson, Brodrick Bunkley, Antonio Dixon and Trevor Laws. So why bring Owens up off the practice squad to create a logjam at a position that the Eagles haven't traditionally carried more than four players? Well, with the season winding down, teams across the NFL look to poach players from other teams' practice squads so they can have control of those players moving into the next season. Owens' promotion is a clear indication that the Eagles' have the defensive tackle in their plans for the future.
"It feels great knowing that they kept me around and brought me up," Owens said. "It means a lot. I love being an Eagle. This is the best time of my life."
Owens is also one of three players the Eagles selected in the seventh round of April's draft. The other two, middle linebacker Jamar Chaney and safety Kurt Coleman, are now in the starting lineup on defense after injuries to Stewart Bradley and Nate Allen. Seeing the impact that those two have been able to make has been a positive sign for Owens, who knows he'll have every chance to do the same.
"Jamar, he's been playing great," Owens said. "He had 16 tackles (against the Giants). Kurt Coleman's also been balling this year. I remember in the preseason he had two touchdowns against the Jets. I'm just excited to be out there playing with the guys that came in with me. It feels like I'm a freshman in college all over again, ready to get my chance."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 5:02 p.m., December 21