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Spadaro: Defensive tackles 'looking for more and more of that'

Fletcher Cox
Fletcher Cox

Fletcher Cox, 50 snaps. Jalen Carter, 40 snaps. Jordan Davis, 35 snaps. Milton Williams, 33 snaps. Kentavius Street and Marlon Tuipulotu, 6 snaps each. That's how the defensive tackle rotation worked on Sunday in the win at New England, and it's a preview, perhaps, of how it will be in weeks to come.

The Eagles want to keep their tackles fresh. That means rotating from series to series, even play to play at times. That means an attacking energy from the guys up front.

"Keeping everybody doing their part, rotating the guys, I like that," Cox said following the 25-20 victory. "We have a lot of players here and we have confidence in all of them. We want to be a force out there, no matter who is on the field. That's our goal each and every play."

Given the short week with Thursday's game against Minnesota, it's important that the defensive tackle depth continues its rotation and its production. Cox helped preserve the game with big plays in the fourth quarter. Davis forced a takeaway that led to a touchdown in the first quarter. Carter had dominating moments in his NFL debut. Tuipulotu had three total tackles in those six snaps. Street played with energy and an edge.

And Williams stepped up and collapsed the pocket with two quarterback pressures, one quarterback hurry, and four total tackles. Williams came on strong last season, finishing with four sacks and 36 total tackles and he picked up on Sunday where he left off in 2022.

"I think I did well. I feel like I could have won some more one-on-ones – it was slick out there with the rain on the turf – but overall, I did my job," Williams said. "It's competition. You're going in, trying to make plays, and when you're out there, it's your turn to make plays. Anytime I'm out there, I'm trying to take advantage of it."

The Eagles need to come up with that kind of performance against a high-octane Vikings offense that features one of the most explosive passing games in the league. Getting up into quarterback Kirk Cousins' comfort zone is important, along with stuffing the running lanes.

"When you go out there, you better make sure you're ready, that you know the play call and all that stuff," Williams said. "It's about going out and making plays."

The Eagles have addressed defensive tackle heavily, of course. Adding Davis and Carter as first-round picks the last two springs has been vitally important, and developing Williams, a third-round selection in 2021, has helped elevate the group. Cox returned to the Eagles for the 12th season of his dominating career, the Eagles added Street in free agency, and Tuipulotu, a sixth-round draft pick in 2021, is healthy after suffering a knee injury last year.

This is a deep group, a versatile room, and one that figures to improve as the young players mature and gain an edge throughout the season.

"It's exciting for us to keep putting out quality players and getting after offenses," Cox said. "It was fun out there. We're looking for more and more of that."

Check out all the best photos from the Eagles' 25-20 Week 1 victory in New England.

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