The Eagles have had many stars in their journey towards the top of the NFL this season, and one of those players has been rookie defensive end Derek Barnett. The team’s first round pick this past May has given Philadelphia another dominant pass rusher outside of Brandon Graham and has made the front office look even better, opines Geoff Mosher of the FanRags Sports Network.
Mosher points out that Barnett was viewed as the “safe” pick when the Eagles were selecting in the middle of the first round. He states that flashier draftees that the Eagles passed on, like running back Dalvin Cook, defensive end Jonathan Allen and linebacker Reuben Foster, have all had injury problems, making the choice to select Tennessee’s all-time sack leader even more brilliant.
At the moment, Barnett is simply a pass rushing specialist coming off the bench, but has already racked up 4.5 games even without getting the majority of the snaps. He trails team leader Brandon Graham by just 1.5 sacks with six weeks left to play. Barnett may not have been the sexy choice at the time, but he’s making the Eagles decision makers look even smarter because of what he’s adding to an already outstanding roster.
- Lions star defensive end Ezekiel Ansah returned to game action for the team’s Thanksgiving tilt against the Vikings. Ansah is active for the first time since Week 9 when he injured his back on Monday night football. The 28-year-old has responded well from a down 2016 campaign with four sacks in just eight games this season. The news of his return is certainly a welcomed addition to a defense that ranks 20th in sacks in the NFL.
- In regards to the late Thanksgiving game between the Redskins and Giants, the expectation that New York will have offensive lineman Jon Halapio make his first professional start at right guard, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com. The 26-year-old would be replacing D.J. Fluker, who has already been ruled out for Week 12 with a toe injury. The move represents another shift in the offensive line for the Giants, who had rookie Chad Wheeler make his first NFL start during the team’s victory over the Chiefs in Week 11.
- In more positive injury news, Panthers star tight end Greg Olsen is continuing to make progress recovering from a broken foot he suffered back in September, reports Jourdan Rodrigue of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). Rodrigue further notes that Olsen looks to be on track to return Sunday, which would be huge addition for an offense that already traded away Kelvin Benjamin and lost wide receiver Curtis Samuel for the season.