Philadelphia Eagles

NFL Combine: Former Temple star Haason Reddick ready to open eyes

NFL Combine: Former Temple star Haason Reddick ready to open eyes

INDIANAPOLIS -- There's a good chance on April 27 that Temple's Haason Reddick will become a first-round pick just across the river from his hometown and in the city where his football career was given new life. 

"It's like I'm living in a dream," Reddick said at the NFL combine Saturday, "and I don't have to wake up."

You'll surely forgive Reddick for getting slightly poetic. His story is one that certainly warrants it. 

Reddick, 22, is from Camden, New Jersey, and went to Haddon Heights High School where he was a really good player; a safety at that time. But injuries to his right knee in his junior and senior seasons kept him off the field and left him without any game tape or hope of playing college football. 

He applied to two schools: Rutgers and Temple. He got into just one. But even then, he didn't think he would be able to play on the Temple football team. It's not that he didn't think he was good enough … it's that he didn't know he would be allowed. 

"I didn't know that you could walk on," Reddick said, retelling the story at his combine media availability Saturday. "I thought my football career was over after high school."

Really, it was just beginning. 

At the time, Reddick's father was "poking around," trying to see if there was any way to get his son on the football team. Luckily a guy named Francis Brown, who was a graduate assistant for the Owls at the time, was a family friend. Brown, who is now the defensive backs coach for Baylor, helped Reddick become a preferred walk-on at Temple. From there, Reddick was buried on the depth chart until Matt Rhule took over the program in 2013. 

Reddick became a contributor and then a starting defensive end before finally earning a scholarship before his redshirt senior season in 2016.  

Within a few short years, Reddick has gone from thinking his football days were over after limping off a high school field to potentially being taken in the first round of the NFL draft. 

"Of course I've seen it," Reddick said of the first-round buzz. "I don't try to pay attention to it, just because you never know what can happen. People rise and fall every day depending on what a team needs or what a team thinks about somebody. It's great to see those things. It's great to see that some people think I'm worthy of being a first-round draft pick. 

"Hopefully come draft time, that's what it is. But until then, I’m going to continue to work hard and approach every day with a dominant approach." 

This is an important week for Reddick, as it is for the other 329 combine participants. Do well and watch the draft stock soar. Mess up and watch it plummet. But if the trend from the last couple of months continues, Reddick will keep climbing up draft boards. 

"I'm very much a Haason Reddick guy," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said on a conference call earlier this week. "And if he tests well at the combine, I think he's going to come from nowhere to being, at worst, a second-round pick and perhaps a late first-round pick."

A big step for Reddick came at the Senior Bowl in January. It's there where Reddick was listed as a linebacker and got a chance to show he could play a new position against some of the best competition in the country. He was one of the best players on the field. 

The week in Mobile, Alabama, for the Senior Bowl was an important one for Reddick in his transition to the NFL. While he's lumped with defensive linemen at the combine, he's clearly projected to be a linebacker in the NFL. Some teams view him as an outside linebacker and some an inside. And he likes things about both spots. Ideally, he said, he'll end up with a team that uses him at both. But if he doesn't, it won't be a big deal to him, he said. 

"This whole journey has been nothing but hard work for me," Reddick said. "A lot of people think that because I'm here now, the hard work is over. The hard work for me is not over. I'm going to continue to work hard. I’m going to continue to make sure I have a prosperous career in the NFL."

As of Saturday afternoon, Reddick wasn’t sure if he was going to take part in linebacker and defensive linemen drills Sunday but was more than up for it if he got the chance. 

Reddick is hoping to run a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash and said he has another bigger goal in mind for himself but wanted to keep it hidden. He said if he reaches the goal everyone will know. 

After all Reddick has overcome, it wouldn't be smart to bet against him. 

NFL Notes: Emergence of Steelers rookie T.J. Watt signals changing of the guard

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NFL Notes: Emergence of Steelers rookie T.J. Watt signals changing of the guard

LATROBE, Pa. -- Pittsburgh Steelers first-round pick T.J. Watt will take all the preseason snaps he can get at right outside linebacker.

And perhaps most of them in the regular season too, a fact the man he is in the process of replacing isn't fighting.

James Harrison is the Steelers' all-time sacks leader, including a team-high five last season at the not-so tender age of 38.

The now-39-year-old Harrison doesn't care who has the starting spot he's held for the better part of a decade as long as it results in another Lombardi Trophy for the Steelers.

"I'm not worried about it," Harrison said Wednesday. "Whatever they want me to do. I'm 39 years old and still playing football."

Saints: Team replaces 2 doctors after Breaux misdiagnosis
METAIRIE, La. -- Saints coach Sean Payton says cornerback Delvin Breaux needs lower-leg surgery that will sideline him about six weeks and that an initial misdiagnosis of Breaux's injury has sparked a shake-up in the team's medical staff.

Payton says Breaux has a fibula fracture that was initially diagnosed as a contusion. Breaux has missed more than a week of practice and Payton said he had been getting frustrated with the pace of Breaux's recovery, based on the initial diagnosis.

"I certainly was pushing him, based on the information I was getting," Payton said.

The coach said the Saints will replace two orthopedic surgeons and in the meantime receive help from Chargers physicians during joint practices in California leading up to their game Sunday in Los Angeles (see full story).

Patriots: Ageless Brady not slowing down at 40
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Training camp is easier for Tom Brady at age 40 than it was when he entered the NFL in 2000.

Brady, who turned 40 on Aug. 3, was asked how camp with the New England Patriots is different for him now that he's one of the older players in the league.

"I think it's a lot easier for me now than it's ever been," he said. "I feel like my routine's better than it's ever been. When you're younger you don't know what to do, and after 17 years, going on my 18th year I know what to do. I know how to prepare."

Redskins: Safety Cravens undergoes knee surgery
ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins safety Su'a Cravens had knee surgery and there's no official timeline for him to return.

Coach Jay Gruden says Cravens had a knee scope to clean out some issues with his meniscus. Gruden says Cravens was injured on the third play of the Redskins' first preseason game last week at Baltimore.

With Cravens out, Deshazor Everett has taken most of the snaps as the first-team free safety and could start there when the Redskins host the Green Bay Packers on Saturday.

Tight end Jordan Reed, who's on the physically unable to perform list with a left big toe injury, isn't expected to play Saturday. Receiver Jamison Crowder, who has been bothered by a hamstring injury, said the plan is for him to play against the Packers.

Packers: TE Bennett ‘the quarterback whisperer’
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Call Martellus Bennett the "quarterback whisperer."

The Green Bay Packers' tight end is with his third team in as many seasons, which means another training camp of building rapport with a new quarterback. He's proven to be productive at every stop.

Bennett is confident he'll do just fine connecting with Aaron Rodgers, even if the veterans might get limited reps together in preseason games.

"I need all the reps I can (get) with Aaron -- practice reps, game reps, meeting room reps. Any rep I can get with him I'll try to get whether it's just whispering to him, try to be the quarterback whisperer," the always-entertaining Bennett said. "Over-communicate and over-rep every single thing we could possibly do."

Doug Pederson, Sean McDermott have same Coach of the Year odds

Doug Pederson, Sean McDermott have same Coach of the Year odds

In a complete and utter shock, Bill Belichick is Bovada's favorite to win NFL Coach of the Year. 

Belichick is 7/1 to win the award, followed by Oakland's Jack Del Rio (9/1) and Green Bay's Mike McCarthy (10/1).

Despite the expected success of the Patriots, Belichick doesn't seem like a great bet because his team is so loaded. Anything short of 14-2 would probably make it difficult for Belichick to win the award for the fourth time. (He took it home in 2003, 2007 and 2010.)

Carolina's Ron Rivera and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin (12/1) round out the top five.

Doug Pederson is toward the bottom at 33/1, in a tie with nine others, including first-year Bills head coach and former Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.

The reigning Coach of the Year, Jason Garrett, is 20/1 to repeat. If the Cowboys are able to win the NFC East with Ezekiel Elliott suspended for six games, he might deserve it.

The longest odds, 50/1, belong to Todd Bowles (Jets), Jim Caldwell (Colts), John Fox (Bears), Adam Gase (Dolphins), Hue Jackson (Browns), Marvin Lewis (Bengals) and Sean McVay (Rams), for reasons that should be pretty obvious.