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Eagle Eye: Bend but don't break D
Bennie Logan had a career-high eight tackles in the Eagles' Week 10 win over the Packers. (AP)
It was frustrating for him. Humbling, too.
That’s what Bennie Logan said about the start to his rookie season. Start is probably a poor word to use, actually. Beginning is better. Because Logan didn’t start many games early this season. In fact, the rookie defensive tackle didn’t start any of the Eagles’ first eight games. And when he did play, he didn’t play much.
“You have to be patient,” Logan said. “That was my main thing. Everything happens for a reason. That’s the mindset I’ve had my whole life. Everything happens for a reason, so I was being patient with the whole thing.”
The Eagles selected Logan in the third round (67th overall) of the 2013 draft. They liked what they saw of the 6-foot-2, 309-pound defensive lineman out of LSU. He was named to the SEC second team in 2012, and he played a big part in helping the Tigers rank ninth in college football against the run.
Despite his pedigree, Logan was brought along slowly at first. He played just 22 snaps (out of 75) in Week 1. He played 27 (out of 83) in Week 2. He played 27 (out of 83) in Week 3. It went on like that. His first year at LSU he redshirted. His second year, he didn’t play much. The beginning of this season was a lot like that for Logan -- remembering what it was like to watch more than play.
“It’s been a while since I didn’t play a lot or start. It was a little frustrating,” Logan said. “And it was humbling -- a humbling experience, to be honest. But you just have to be patient and everything will work itself out."
As recently as three weeks ago against the Giants, Logan played just 11 snaps. But since then, his reps have increased significantly.
Logan got his first start against the Raiders in Oakland and played 39 snaps (41 percent of the defensive plays). He got his second straight start against the Packers in Green Bay and played 38 snaps (48 percent). Among defensive linemen over the last two weeks, only Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton have gotten more reps than Logan.
Not surprisingly, Logan’s production has recently increased. He had a career-high eight tackles (four solo) against the Packers in Week 10. That was double the four tackles (two solo) he managed the week before against the Raiders, which was his career-high at the time.
“Bennie falls into the category with all of us on the defense,” linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. “You could name any player on the defense and guys have gotten consistently better with their technique and the things they’ve been asked to do. Bennie falls into that category. He’s doing a good job making plays in the middle. He’s an athletic guy who’s playing on that nose, but he still has the ability to run a guy down on the line of scrimmage and make plays in the backfield.”
Logan -- who has two sacks this year -- was described by Thornton as a “hard worker” and “a talented football player.” That only goes so far, though. You still need the opportunity to show what you can do. That didn’t really happen until the Eagles traded defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga and a sixth-round pick to the New England Patriots for a fifth-round pick a few weeks ago (see story). That move created an opening and more playing time for Logan.
“It’s been different. It was a challenge for me,” Logan said. “They traded Isaac, and I understood that the role was on me to step up my game and perform. I didn’t want to let the other 10 guys on the field down. I studied more film. Practiced hard. And got myself ready to play more snaps.
“The opportunity is something I’ve been waiting for. Now it’s here.”