Most of the players who will start on Sunday at New England didn't play in the preseason, so there is a natural energy – at a very high level – for the opening kickoff. There is no doubt the locker room is "excited" about the 2023 season – "excited" is the word most used when asked during the week about the "mindset of this football team" – but there is more to it than that.
As the Eagles reached the end of their practice week – with a walkthrough to go on Saturday before departing for Foxborough, Mass. – here is a trip around the locker room to get a pulse of where this team is at ahead of the 4:25 PM game (CBS) at the Patriots.
Haason Reddick: 'Let's go out there and be dominant'
In his second Eagles season, Haason Reddick is focused only on getting things started the right way. He will wear protection for a right thumb that underwent surgery a few weeks ago and that he said feels fine, and he has all the confidence in the world that the defensive front is going to come out fired up.
"We have had good practices and it's all coming along, so I think we're ready to go out there and play our game," he said. "We're going to take the same approach, and that's to go out there and be dominant. That's our mindset. We're going to see how it all comes together on Sunday."
This is Game 1. This is New England. This is a huge television audience. What is it like that very first time in a season, running out onto the field, getting ready for it all to begin?
"For me, this is Year 7 and it's all about 'Let's go out there and have great energy and let's go out there and be dominant.' I'm pretty much to the point where I'm not anxious or nervous anymore. I'm just focused on playing great football," Reddick said. "I'm prepared to go out and play my game and I've spent a lot of time to get to this point, so it's all about going out there and being me. That's where I am."
D'Andre Swift: 'We want to go out there and play a great football game'
This is his first game as an Eagle, and it's a big deal. But D'Andre Swift is a low-key guy and he's approaching Game 1 that way.
"I'm not one to get hyped too much," he said. "I just focus on doing my job and whatever that happens to be, I'll be ready for it. I feel very comfortable in this offense and I'm ready to do whatever they need from me. We want to go out there and play a great football game."
Swift has the kind of multidimensional skills the Eagles can use in their backfield, and he's such a natural talent catching the football that he has taken some practice time working with the wide receivers here to, as he says, "hone his craft." Whether that's a signal of what is to come remains to be seen, but for his part, Swift says it is just about making himself a better all-around player.
"Anything I can do to improve myself, I'm gonna do," he said. "There are so many parts to the game that I want to be great in everything I do out there."
Are there nerves playing with a new team? Any sense of having to "prove" himself to his teammates?
"Nah, none of that," Swift said. "I'm just going to go out and do what I do. I've been here for a while now, practicing every day and the guys know me. The coaches know me. It's time to do it in a game that counts in the standings now and I think that is what everybody here feels. The season is here."
Josh Sweat: 'Last year is last year'
"Last year is last year. I'm way past that," Josh Sweat is saying. "I'm one of those guys who moves on to the next thing pretty fast, so what we did last year, how last season ended, that's last year. We have a whole new challenge in front of us now."
This is Year 6 for Sweat, an outstanding edge player for the Eagles who probably deserved Pro Bowl recognition in 2022, when he recorded career highs in sacks (11), quarterback hurries (23), and quarterback pressures (47).
He is back for more. Much, much more.
"The first game, it gets you rolling and it's real," he said. "Our mindset is 'dominate.' We done connected enough and bonded enough, so now it's time to get on the field and do it. We know New England has a physical team and they're going to try to get us. We need to try to get them to match us and we're going to be ready to play some ball. I felt better, personally, and practiced better and performed better than in any camp we've had, so let's go. I think we know what we've got in this locker room, and now it's time to go out and prove it."
The Birds hit the field for a hot week of practice. Check out the best photos as the Eagles prepare for Week 1 against the Patriots.
Nolan Smith: 'As a rookie, there ain't a job I won't do'
Nolan Smith was glued to the television last Saturday, watching his Georgia Bulldogs dismantle Tenn-Martin and he was into it.
"I was yelling and screaming at the TV because I knew where everybody was supposed to be on defense and I was mad when they weren't lined up the right way. It got me juiced up and I had to turn the TV on and off," he said, laughing. "My girlfriend kind of looked at me shocked."
Smith is beyond jacked up for Sunday, his NFL regular-season debut. The 30th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft is keyed in on contributing to the defense and special teams.
"Man, I'm excited," he said. "This is an opportunity I get to put another foot forward and show the world why I came here. That's what I'm excited to do and that's what I'm ready to do.
"The preseason was OK for me, but I wanted a sack for me because I wanted to call my momma and be like, 'Damn, I got one!' I'm gonna get one this game, though. That's just how I feel and that's the goal every game. Help this team. That's my job. And as a rookie, there ain't a job I won't do.
"I'm going to be full of emotion, I know that. A lot of people said I wouldn't be here because of my size and my stature, so I'm out to prove those people wrong."
Yoga on the Field | October 2nd
Join the Eagles for an evening of Yoga on the field, under the lights at Lincoln Financial Field. This class will be led by experienced instructors, and all skill levels are welcome. Complimentary parking will be provided for all Yoga on the Field ticket holders. Don't miss this unique yoga experience with an Eagles twist.
Kenneth Gainwell eyes a 'carryover from last year'
Finishing the 2022 season as he did – leading the Eagles in rushing yards and yards from scrimmage in the postseason – has carried over into 2023, says running back Kenneth Gainwell. He feels the momentum.
It's time to go.
"I think it's been a carryover from last year and I know where I am, I know this offense, and I'm ready to play," he said. "Our whole running back room, we can do it all, so we can be moved in and out and the offense keeps going.
"I have a lot of confidence in myself and the guys around me. We've had a good summer and we're going to get out there on Sunday and just play ball. Play our game. I don't think there are nerves or anything like that, just feeling ready to go. Feeling like it's starting all over again and that's what we're here for."