You never want to see anyone suffer a preseason injury, but you really never want to see a star player get hurt in training camp. So naturally, Eagles fans are feeling pretty on edge about the thumb injury Haason Reddick suffered in training camp.
The first piece of good news, of course, is that Reddick is not expected to miss any regular season time. And a thumb injury isn’t like a hamstring or ankle injury — it’s more of a binary “can you play or not” situation than an issue that could potentially slow him down.
The other silver lining is that we’ve clearly got a very capable replacement waiting in the wings, and this injury should open up even more practice reps with the first team to develop that replacement further.
Nolan Smith has been one of the Eagles’ biggest training camp standouts, and he already looks capable of being an NFL starter for Week 1.
I’m not saying he’s already on par with Reddick, but if recovery takes longer than expected then Smith can at least step in without causing concerns that this defense is going to fall apart.
Philly has what might be the best front-seven in the NFL, and that’s not just about the top-end talent. Yes, when healthy the starters are as good as any other unit in the league, but where the Eagles really stand out in a class of their own is in their depth.
Most teams would love to have Smith in their starting lineup already, and the fact that he’s able to be our fallback option with Reddick hurt really highlights just how absurdly good this unit is.
The gap between Smith and Reddick isn’t just talent, as Reddick is one of the more versatile defenders around and Smith is still learning the Eagles’ defense, but Smith does project as a very versatile defender too. He’s undersized as an edge rusher but still holds up well even in run defense and also moves well in pursuit in the open field.
I’m excited for what Hurts and the offense will do this year, but the defensive front seven is what really excites me most about this Eagles team.
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