Mon, 03 Oct 2022

Haason Reddick is still beaming that he's an Eagle

Philadelphia Eagles
10 Aug 2022, 19:12 GMT+10

Sage Hurley

Haason Reddick is entering his sixth year in the NFL; he considers himself a veteran of the league. Even still, this is his most anticipated season yet.

He said it himself on Tuesday at Training Camp: "I haven't been as excited about playing football in the NFL since I've been in the NFL."

And that means something, considering the near-constant uncertainty he's faced in his football career up until this point.

It started at Haddon Heights High School; Reddick suffered a broken femur and meniscus issues that left him without adequate film to gain any traction with college scouts. The Camden, New Jersey native was a zero-star recruit grasping a distant dream before he earned a spot on Temple University's squad as a walk-on.

At Temple, he was again forced to question his future in football when then-coach Steve Addazio told him he likely didn't have a spot on the team after his first season playing corner.

But Reddick's perseverance steady availed.

Coaching changes provided him an interchanging role as outside linebacker and defensive end under Matt Rhule, and he flourished at his new position, recording 42 tackles for loss and 17 sacks in three seasons.

His professional aspirations soon became attainable, especially after impressing as an off-ball backer in the Senior Bowl - though he'd never played the position before. The Cardinals saw versatility and drafted Reddick 13th overall in the 2017 draft.

But uncertainties quickly surrounded his play in Arizona. He had a slow start in the league - the Cardinals played him primarily as an off-ball linebacker in his first three seasons. He recorded just seven sacks in that span.

He transitioned back to a pass rusher off the edge in 2020, jumping from 30.5% of snaps on the line of scrimmage in 2019 to an average of 90% in 2020, and his productivity immediately soared.

When he began playing at his natural position, he recorded a career-high 12.5 sacks, tying for 4th-most in the league, ranked 3rd in tackles for loss, and posted 62 tackles.

"That was the problem with playing inside linebacker. There was just so much thinking for me that I wasn't used to that I didn't have the experience for at the time," he said.

"So now that I'm in a position where I'm close to playing what I played in college, it takes out the thinking which allows my natural ability and my natural talent to take over my game for me."

He was signed with the Carolina Panthers in 2021, back under Matt Rhule. He led the team with 11.0 sacks and 18 QB hits, but never really settled due to his limited one-year contract.

It's clear - consistency was something he'd been sorely missing. But it's something he's quickly found at home in Philadelphia.

"It's turning out to be everything that I wanted and more," said Reddick.

Now, he's proved his talent at his preferred position, he's indisputably one of the most impactful pass rushers in the NFL, and the Eagles organization trusts him to succeed there.

"I know what my role is; I know what I'm here to do. And I don't have to worry about being put in a position that's not meant for me," said Reddick.

After signing a three-year deal in Philadelphia, Reddick's no longer forced to prove his belonging. Instead, he has an open line of communication with Eagles coaches Jonathan Gannon and Jeremiah Washburn, regularly meeting to discuss what works best for his skill set.

"My insight has been asked for more here. The coaches, they really want to put in what we feel comfortable with. Where we don't feel comfortable with, they take it out. They want us to be able to play as fast as we can," Reddick said.

His relationship with the coaching staff has already been reflected in his Training Camp reps.

He's noticeably confident in practice - exerting dominance as a playmaker, recording sacks and taking a leadership role within the defensive unit.

"To be in a place now where I'm being asked for my insight," he said. "I mean, that in itself is incredible."

His drive in the face of adversity has landed him right where he wants to be - and to sweeten the deal, he's loving the talent surrounding him.

"The pieces we have on the D-line, on the back end," he said, beaming. "It's very exciting. And like I said before, many times, I just can't wait until the season gets here."

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