Philadelphia Eagles News

T.J. Edwards eyes starting role after successful rookie season 

Heading into the Training Camp, fans and pundits did not have a whole lot of confidence in the Eagles' linebacker group.

Things seemed to grow even direr when the unit's most experienced player, free agent signing Jatavis Brown, suddenly retired.

But the concern about the Eagles' linebackers hasn't made it inside the building, specifically second-year pro T.J. Edwards. During a conference call with reporters Monday, Edwards made it clear that he has all the confidence in the world in not only in himself, but the entire unit.

"It's a very talented group. Very fast group from top to bottom," Edwards said of the linebackers. "The young guys are very athletic and very smart and have a really good feel for what's going on."

"I think this group just has a lot of talent," he added. "I think right now there's a really big competition, so that's really going to raise the level of all of us as well."

All of the perceived talent amongst the linebackers do not make up for their lack of experience. With Brown gone, that leaves Nathan Gerry and Duke Riley, who are both entering their fourth seasons, as the group's most experienced players. 

But Edwards' confidence in the group comes from the time he spent in it during his rookie season. In his mind, the chemistry the unit built in 2019, and the additions of draft picks Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley, will pay dividends in 2020.

"I think Nate as well as Alex (Singleton), and myself, and Duke (Riley) can really take that leadership role upon ourselves and bring everyone along because we need everyone," Edwards said.

"I think that part we won't skip a beat with," he added. "We have guys that understand the game very well, so I see us kind of keeping that leadership thing going as well."

Edwards' confidence in himself comes from a season where he played mostly special teams but also saw more than 100 snaps on defense. Off the field, Edwards soaked as much knowledge as possible from now-former Eagles Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill. 

During the offseason, Edwards lived with his family in Chicago, but made the trek to Wisconsin to train with his fellow Badgers. According to Edwards, he has improved his core strength, explosion, and flexibility compared to last season.

"I can feel it. Kind of just running around, I feel a lot more smooth in what I'm doing," Edwards explained. "Now, it's just getting back in the comfort of playing football and getting my reads down and things like that."

The Eagles are counting in Edwards and the rest of the linebackers to get it all down. The organization showed by not bringing in more veterans in addition to Brown that it believes the pieces for a productive ensemble of linebackers are already in place. All Edwards and the others have to do now is go and prove it.

"I think as far as household names, maybe there isn't a lot of that at that position, but we've had guys that have put a lot of time on the grass and in the meeting rooms in our program, and it's time to see those guys play," Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz recently told reporters.

"All those guys are in the mix. All those guys we're excited about," he added.

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