On a new installment of the Eagles Insider Podcast, Chris McPherson sat down with defensive end Cedric Thornton, who notched four tackles and his lone sack of the year when the Eagles and Cowboys met in Week 2.
As a team, Philadelphia sacked Tony Romo three times in that game, with the final takedown forcing the veteran quarterback out of the game with a broken collarbone. Romo is still out of commission due to that injury, so Thornton and the Eagles' front seven will look to make things difficult for reserve signal-caller Matt Cassel when the teams square off this week. They'll also look to slow down running back Darren McFadden, with whom Thornton has a history that dates back to high school.
"I played him in the playoffs my 10th grade year, and we kind of knocked them out. He came in with a lot of hype," the fifth-year end remembers of McFadden, who grew up in a town about an hour north of his hometown of Star City, Arkansas. "He was going to University of Arkansas, and he played every position possible – quarterback, running back, kick returner, kicker, all that. ... I think this'll be my first time actually playing him as a starter. We went to Oakland (to play the Raiders) a few years back, but he didn't play, and last time (Week 2) he didn't play much."
In the Eagles' last game, a 27-16 loss in Carolina, Thornton tied a career high with seven tackles. He spent his first two years with the team playing in a 4-3 front, but as a member of Bill Davis' 3-4 defense the Southern Arkansas alum has thrived.
"I feel like (this defense) lets me have both facets," he said of his role in Davis' defense. "Some plays I can run wild, and other plays I just have to be there and help others make plays. ... It's a battle in the trenches. There's not a play that I don't have my hands on somebody."
Also on the Eagles Insider Podcast:
Enemy Intel: 27:10
Game Time: 35-20
Mailing It In: 49:30
Each week, Fran Duffy and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell typically 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. But coming off the bye week, the focus of this week's episode of the Eagle Eye in the Sky Podcast was entirely upon a huge upcoming road meeting with the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football.
The two began the show by talking about Dallas' offense, which is still without signal-caller Tony Romo because of the broken collarbone he suffered against the Eagles in Week 2. Against the Seahawks last week, the Cowboys mustered just 220 yards of total offense, with just 91 of those coming through the air. Cosell, though, was complimentary of the team's rushing attack, which gained 129 yards on 30 carries after totaling 233 yards on 41 rushes the week prior in a loss to the Giants.
"I thought they actually ran the ball relatively well (against Seattle), given the quality of the opponent," he said. "Their O-line was a strength last year, as we know, and it's ultimately the starting point for their offense."
Without Romo, the Cowboys first turned to Brandon Weeden before handing over the reins to veteran Matt Cassel. Star wideout Dez Bryant returned from a foot injury last week against Seattle and caught just two balls for 12 yards. Despite the sixth-year receiver's struggles since returning to action, Cosell is looking at him as a player who must be accounted for at all times by the Eagles' defense.
"With Dez (Bryant) back, you'd think they could at least create, throw him the ball in one-on-one situations, and let him make a play," Cosell said. "It'll be interesting to see if the Eagles see this as a Byron Maxwell game, where he shadows him, or if they just line up and play. My sense is they'll just line up and play, because I think Nolan Carroll's done a really good job this year."
At the 23:10 mark of the show, defensive end Vinny Curry joined the show to talk about his role as a pass rusher and how he avoids giving away his responsibilities before the snap. To close things out, Fran Duffy was joined by Clemson Tigers reporter Larry Williams to talk about college football and look ahead to the 2016 NFL Draft. That begins at the 26:15 mark of the podcast.
On a new episode of the Journey To The Draft Podcast, Chris McPherson and Fran Duffy talked about the week that was in college football and highlighted six 2016 Draft prospects as part of their Pick Six feature. After talking about general draft buzz for the first 21 minutes of the podcast, the two talked at length about the following six players who will have a big impact on the race for the four spots in the College Football Playoff:
Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State
Quarterback Cardale Jones burst onto the national scene last year after being inserted into the Buckeyes' starting lineup after a late-season injury to Braxton Miller. Jones, then a redshirt sophomore, led Ohio State to national title with huge wins over Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon. He entered his junior year as the team's starter, but after struggling through seven weeks was benched in favor of J.T. Barrett. But a suspension for Barrett has propelled Jones back into the team's starting lineup.
Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson has tallied 6.5 sacks so far this season, including three in the past two weeks. The redshirt junior is also a very good run-stuffer and is expected to be selected in the early rounds if he decides to declare after this season.
Jonathan Bullard, DL, Florida
At 6-3 with a 283-pound frame, senior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard is a player who could have a future in either 4-3 or 3-4 front in the NFL. At Florida, he plays defensive tackle in a 4-3 front, and through eight games has tallied 36 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He's projected to be a late-first or early-second round selection by analysts.
Jarran Reed, DE, Alabama
Senior Jarran Reed is a load to handle at 6-4 and 313 pounds, and his nimble feet and impressive athleticism allow him to play defensive end in Alabama's 3-4 front. He's totaled 39 tackles through eight games and is expected to be one of the first defensive players selected in this year's NFL Draft.
Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
Coming into his junior season, Jaylon Smith was considered one of the best linebackers in the nation, and he's backed up that hype with his play so far this year. At 6-3, 235 pounds, he is one of the more versatile defensive players in the nation, flashing the ability to play both the inside and outside linebacker positions as well as cover receivers in the slot. In last week's win over Temple, he led Notre Dame with 10 tackles. He's expected to be a first-round pick should he declare after this season.
Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
Senior receiver Josh Doctson is having a monster season for the Horned Frogs, already totaling 1,250 yards and 13 touchdowns on 71 catches through just eight games. After failing to go over 100 yards receiving in his first two games this year, he's hit the century mark in each of his last six games, surpassing 150 in five of those outings including an 18-catch, 267-yard, three-touchdown day against Texas Tech in late September. The 6-3 wideout is expected to be a first- or second-round pick.