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The Eagles' defensive line has drawn nothing but praise this season. They've been stopping the run as well as any unit in the league, and collapsing the pocket to help force 16 turnovers through six games. Fletcher Cox is drawing All-Pro consideration, Bennie Logan is quickly becoming a rising stud and Cedric Thornton's journey from undrafted player to run-stopper extraordinaire serves as inspiration for underdogs everywhere.
And it's not just the starters. Brandon Bair chipped in with a huge game in his Week 3 start against the Jets. Taylor Hart continues to show signs of improvement in his second season. Beau Allen is progressing into a sturdy nose tackle, and Vinny Curry may just be the best pure pass rusher on the Eagles' roster.
But as the Eagles' defensive front continues to get better and better, there is one person who has had to take his lumps again … and again … and again. Every day in training he takes a beating, and he's still yet to make his NFL debut. In fact, he's left alone at the team facility while the rest of his teammates receive all the glory on gameday.
His name is Surge. Today in Smithology, Surge finally tells his story. But first, some music to set the tone.
He's the first one out on the practice fields and he's the last one to come inside. Well, he actually never comes inside. He just gets a tarp thrown over him if it rains. He does his job every day, working with the defensive linemen and linebackers as they perfect their craft, working on their explosion, their hand placement and their quickness. Surge takes it all.
Some teams don't use the sleds that much. Maybe the sled makes an appearance early in the season, but then it gets phased out of the daily routine. Not Surge. The Eagles hit him every single day.
"I've been places where the sled is in a corner that nobody ever uses it, ever, Training Camp, and it's rusty and got cobwebs on it," defensive coordinator Bill Davis said earlier this week. "Ours won't get that way; ours break every other day because of how much they use it. But it's a great way that doesn't wear the player out. Most guys go player to player when they work on those things, and you wear the players out. So this is a way that we can get better at what we do and really save the players' hands and wrists and all that. It's a great thing."
Every other day it breaks. When most players go down with an injury, the other players on the field will take a knee and go silent, hoping for the best for their downed comrade. But when Surge gets banged up?
"We get a lot of reps with the sled, and it's always pretty fun when you break it," said Allen. "You hear everyone cheer and you get a couple of seconds off. It's a good time."
"Hell yeah, we try to break them," said Brandon Graham. "That's the fun part. We try to break them so we don't have to hit them no more, but they always seem to get new ones."
While conducting these interviews on Wednesday, it just so happened that Surge had been broken earlier that very day.
"We actually broke one today," Allen said with excitement. "T-Hart broke it!"
A quick poll of the locker room leads Smithology to believe that Hart is indeed the biggest culprit when it comes to breaking Surge. In an effort to understand why Hart has held such a grudge on the sled, I went to the 6-6 lineman and asked.
"We're not mean to the sled, just hitting it as hard as we can," Hart said. "I mean, it's an accomplishment if you can (break) it, back from college to now."
The next question is this: why? What has this harmless orange sled ever done to the Eagles that they feel the need to pulverize him on a daily basis, and then laugh at him and have a good time at his expense when he's down for the count.
"It's a love-hate relationship," said Allen. "I like to think that the sled wronged me in some deep, deep way. Maybe like my girlfriend cheated on me with the sled. I don't know. Something bad like that.
"I think (Fletcher Cox) hits it hard. (Graham) hits it hard. I think we all hit it really hard. We hit the (crap) out of that thing."
"It's really done nothing to us, but I just get tired of hitting it, so I take my aggression out on it," said Logan. "I know we've broke it over 10 since we've been here."
"We don't even try to hit them hard, we just try to hit them fast and sometimes they break," said Thronton. don't know a good analogy right now, but I feel like if you're in a fight and you let someone hit you, eventually you're going to break, so that's what we do to Surge every day. We hit the crap out of him every day. Sometimes he breaks."
"We look at it as an opponent, so that's why I'm so mad at it," said Graham. "I think of it as a person, and that's how I want it to be on the field."
But perhaps Surge's purpose is more utilitarian than individual. If him taking his licks every time he's on the field provides the most utility to the rest of the team and is for the greater good of the organization, then perhaps it is the right thing.
"Surge is just a very selfless individual," said Bair. "He sacrifices everything for us."
"What did Surge ever do to me?" asked Thornton. "Well, he's helped me out a lot. On gameday, he makes my life easier."
"I'm a believer in the sled," said Graham. "I can tell you that much."
Now that we've heard from the players, it's time to hear the other side of the story. How does Surge feel about all of this? Smithology was granted an exclusive one-on-one interview with Surge, a groundbreaking moment for this young column. Click play on the video below to see the interview in its entirety.
As you can see, Surge is speechless. He is either a broken man, or he is too humble to say anything bad about the people around him. When all is said and done, Surge may be the biggest unsung hero on this Eagles team.
Thank you for everything you have given to this organization, Surge. You're the hero we need, but don't deserve.