After missing all of training camp and Week 1 with a pec injury, Javon Hargrave made his season debut against the Rams in the 37-19 loss.
The Eagles’ biggest free agent acquisition played just 25 snaps and didn’t show up on the defensive stat sheet.
“Right now, it's just me just getting back out there on the football field and just knocking some of the rust off,” Hargrave said, “and trying to get back out there with the guys.”
He better knock that rust off quickly.
Because the Eagles are already in an 0-2 hole and Fletcher Cox came out of the loss to the Rams loss with an oblique injury that kept him out of practice to start the week. Cox might miss Week 3, but even if he plays, he probably won’t be at 100 percent. Either way, that’s a huge deal for the Eagles.
But the Eagles were also built to withstand that. After all, they signed Malik Jackson to a three-year, $30 million deal last year and this year they signed Hargrave to a three-year, $39 million deal. That’s on top of the $100 million deal Cox already has. Oh yeah, and the Eagles brought back Hassan Ridgeway this offseason.
This interior defensive line, at least on paper, is stacked. They just need to start performing better as a group. Through two games, Jackson has played well and Cox has had his moments. There just can’t be too long of an acclimation period for Hargrave.
That’s an even tougher ask for Hargrave, specifically, because he’s coming from a passive 3-4 defense into Jim Schwartz’s aggressive one-gapping front. In Pittsburgh, Hargrave was asked to two-gap a ton. That’s not the case here. In Philly, he’s going to be asked to get up the field, get at the quarterback and take out the running back on the way. It’s a set of skills the Eagles are convinced Hargrave has. Many close to him were excited for the opportunity to get into a scheme like this.
It can just take some time to get used to as he makes the switch. I think back to when the Eagles first acquired Tim Jernigan from Baltimore in 2017. Even with a training camp he still said it took him longer than he expected to transition from a 3-4 to a 4-3.
If you haven’t noticed, the Eagles are short on time.
“It's definitely different,” Hargrave said. “You know how I played in Pittsburgh for four years, so it ain't gonna take a long time, but I just need to get some reps under my belt and I feel like I pick up quickly, and I'mma just start progressing as more reps as I take.”
On Wednesday, Hargrave said he had a good day of practice as he continues to get himself back to game shape. For a 305-pound lineman that’s not always the easiest thing.
But Hargrave is clearly looking forward. He wasn’t much interested in talking about his injury. He even said he couldn’t remember when the pec strain actually happened, which I don’t buy, but you get the point.
“I feel great, and as far as me playing with Fletch and Malik and the whole defensive line, it's just another great line,” he said. “I'm just so used to being with a bunch of dogs, and I'm just happy to be inserted with another group of dogs, and I'm ready to just start getting it, taking off and start working with them.”
That needs to start this week. Sure, the Eagles signed Hargrave to a three-year contract and we’re only 1/24 into it so far, but they need him to play well right now. It’s early and it’s not his fault … but the season is already on the line.