Haason Reddick hasn’t missed a game in his first six seasons, so the Pro Bowl edge rusher won’t let thumb surgery keep him off the field.
Reddick will line up Sunday and go after Mac Jones when the Philadelphia Eagles visit the New England Patriots. The second-team All-Pro is aiming to build off a season in which he had a career-high 16 sacks plus 3 1/2 more in the playoffs.
“I remember when I first came into the league listening to some of the older guys saying that availability is a skill,” Reddick said on the AP Pro Football Podcast. “The ability to be able to be on a football field because of what kind of sport it is, how many people get injured, the ability to be on the field is a skill. So that’s something that I take pride in.”
Reddick specializes in making life miserable for opposing quarterbacks. He’s had at least 11 sacks in each of the last three seasons after totaling just 8 1/2 in his first three in Arizona, which selected him in the first round of the 2017 draft.
Reddick, who played at Temple and grew up in southern New Jersey just outside Philadelphia, flourished in his first season with his hometown team. Reddick was part of a defense that had 70 sacks, including four players in double digits.
That stingy defense plus an explosive offense led by Jalen Hurts helped the Eagles reach the Super Bowl.
“To have the type of year that we had my first year back home, the energy, the love, the excitement, the whole atmosphere of the city, it was beyond whatever I could imagine,” Reddick said. “It’s going to be hard (to follow it up) but I’m someone who takes pride in continuing progress where I continue to raise the bar and raise the ladder.”
Despite losing defensive tackle Javon Hargrave in free agency, the Eagles still have a star-studded defensive line. Ends Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat each had 11 sacks last year. Tackle Fletcher Cox is a six-time Pro Bowl pick. Jordan Davis and rookie Jalen Carter — back-to-back first-round picks from Georgia — are being counted on to help fill Hargrave’s void. Georgia first-round pick rookie Nolan Smith and Derek Barnett make it a deep unit.
They all get to sharpen their skills going against Philadelphia’s offensive line that features All-Pros Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson plus Pro Bowler Landon Dickerson and Jordan Mailata.
“We’re seeing the best offensive line,” Reddick said. “It might sound like a cliche to say iron sharpens iron, but we’re going out there, we’re pushing each other.”
Reddick has lofty goals for himself and the team. From coach Nick Sirianni, Hurts on down the roster, players are focused on getting back to the Super Bowl and winning it. From a personal perspective, Reddick isn’t shy about stating his intentions.
“My father, he always told me, ‘If you want to do anything in life, try to be the best at it,’” Reddick said. “I play football. I want to be one of the best in my position, one of the most decorated players. I’m here to set a legacy.”
Part of building that legacy includes community service. Reddick is passionate about giving back. He’s among the defensive players who have partnered with Campbell’s on their “Chunky Sacks Hunger” program. Reddick’s mom worked at the Campbell’s headquarters in Camden, New Jersey, and was quite familiar with the soup commercials former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and his mom starred in during the 2000s.
“Just to have a connection to their brand, understand what the brand is and the things that they’re trying to do, it was very important,” Reddick said.
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