Players from Delaware, South Jersey starring on Cardinals' defense
It has been quite a season for two Cardinals' defensive players with local ties.
Haason Reddick, the Cardinals' first-round pick in 2017, had five sacks against the Giants last Sunday.
Reddick, out of Haddon Heights High School in South Jersey and then Temple, also had three forced fumbles and five tackles against the Giants in earning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Reddick has 10 sacks this season, which ranks sixth in the NFL. Reddick also has 50 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 15 quarterback hits, four passes defensed and three forced fumbles. And he's eligible for free agency after the season.
In addition, defensive tackle Angelo Blackson, who attended Red Lion Christian Academy in Delaware, has become an anchor on the Cardinals' defensive line. Blackson was released by the Houston Texans just before the season started and was signed by the Cardinals two days later.
Blackson has played in every game this season, and started the last five.
"He’s been phenomenal," Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said about Blackson during a conference call with reporters who cover the Eagles. "Just his work ethic, his mentality. He’s a man of few words, but when he’s on the field, he is straight business.
"I don’t think any of us could have anticipated the impact that he’s had on our defensive line from the first day he got here. I couldn’t be happier with what he’s doing, and I think he has a great career ahead of him."
Blackson was a fourth-round pick of the Tennessee Titans in 2015. He has 2 sacks, 7 QB hits and 20 tackles this season.
Reddick has already had three head coaches and three defensive coordinators since he got to the NFL.
It was only natural for rookie linebacker Shaun Bradley, the Eagles' sixth-round pick, to reach out to his former Temple teammate for advice about the NFL. The two overlapped in 2016, when Bradley was a freshman.
Bradley has gradually worked his way into a role this season as injuries have taken their toll at linebacker.
"Haas was definitely one of the guys I had asked prior to me coming to camp," Bradley said. "I hit him up, asking him what things should I work on? How do I get the coaches’ attention? And how do I work and be better myself?
As for Reddick's play, Bradley said. "That’s what he does (sacks). It was just a matter of time. We all knew it. I was one of those he took under his wing when I was at Temple. I’ve always been supportive of him."
Reddick doesn't mind sharing because he has had to adjust throughout his football career, going back to high school. He played in only four games total over his last two years at Haddon Heights because of injuries, then walked on at Temple before ultimately becoming a first-round pick.
Reddick's five sacks against the Giants were more sacks than he had in any of his three previous seasons. And with 10 sacks, Reddick has already surpassed his total of 7.5 from 2017-19.
"It's one for the history books," Reddick told the Arizona Cardinals' website about his 5-sack game. "No matter what people say or what happens from here on out, they can never take that day away from me. It's going to go down in history and hopefully it'll be one (record) that sticks around for a while."
Prediction, with a depleted secondary
The Eagles were able to catch the Saints by surprise because it was Jalen Hurts' first start, and the video of him was limited considering that he only had 59 snaps and 15 passes attempted through the Eagles' first 12 games.
That won't be the case against the Cardinals, not only because they have the video of Hurts, but because they see a Hurts prototype in practice every day in Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray.
And the Cardinals' defense, despite its mediocre rankings this season, is well-suited for it. The Cardinals rank 12th overall, allowing 345 yards per game, and 18th against the rush, allowing 120 yards per game.
The Eagles, of course, are coming off their season-high of 246 yards rushing. Both Miles Sanders (115 yards) and Hurts (106) surpassed 100.
The Cardinals have two Pro Bowl defensive backs in cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Budda Baker. That will make it difficult for Hurts to throw deep. They also have inside linebacker Jordan Hicks, who spent four seasons with the Eagles before signing as a free agent with the Cardinals.
Hicks leads the Cardinals with 101 tackles.
"Jordan Hicks is a smart, active, aggressive linebacker who kind of knows us a little bit and can maybe sniff some things out," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said.
If Reddick and the other Cardinals pass rushers are able to put pressure on Hurts, he has shown the ability to either run or throw the ball away, something Carson Wentz struggled with.
The Eagles will have to contain quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who is fifth in the NFL with 1,155 yards receiving. That task became more difficult with Darius Slay sitting out because of a concussion.
That likely leaves safety Jalen Mills moving back to corner, with Michael Jacquet on the other side. The safeties will likely be Marcus Epps, rookie K’Von Wallace and Blake Countess, just signed on Thursday.
The longer the Eagles offense can stay on the field, the better. And that’s possible with Hurts at QB.
Score: Eagles 28, Cardinals 26.
Contact Martin Frank at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.