Derek Barnett had a pretty good NFL debut in the Eagles‘ preseason opener.
Just ask Brett Hundley, whom he sacked twice. Or Joe Callahan, whom he drilled into the grass at Lambeau Field.
“It felt good to get to the quarterback because we’re not able to hit them in practice,” Barnett said about the hit below. “It was live. All the D-linemen on the field were just excited because we could touch the quarterback without getting yelled at.”
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz specifically mentioned this hit on a screen pass when asked about what Barnett showed in his debut.
“He’s a slippery guy,” Schwartz said. “There are some things he can do better. He had a couple sort of wasted rushes where we weren’t in sync with our front four. Sort of what you expect from a rookie as you start. But obviously, two sacks on a limited number of reps — that kind of production, you expect from a first-rounder.”
Barnett said his first game felt good but he’s just concerned on getting better. He is still focused on trying to make his rushes look the same. It’s the mantra he’s been sticking with for the last few weeks.
Barnett feels the pressure, too. He agrees with Schwartz that production is expected from him as a first-round pick.
“I think that’s what’s expected of me,” he said. “It’s not a surprise to me. I mean, I feel like as a first-round pick, I have to come in and help early. I feel like I’m trying to do that as much as possible and still continue to grow each and every day. It was the first preseason game but there’s still a long way to go. I think it was a good start but I have to keep continuing to build every day and not get satisfied.”
Douglas shines in debut
While the Eagles acquired Ronald Darby on Friday, one of their rookie cornerbacks really impressed Schwartz in Green Bay on Thursday night.
Rasul Douglas stood out.
“Well, first of all, I thought he played very well in the game,” Schwartz said. “I don’t remember if I said this before, but one of the things that’s impressed me about Rasul is, every time we’ve taken a step up in competition, he’s sort of met that challenge, you know, and it might not look the same on a normal practice, but on our first padded practice, he really stood out. First preseason game, I thought he stood out.
“He’s got great length. He can get his hands on balls. He responded quickly to things that happened in the game. Did a couple nice things on special teams, too, and that’s important for young corners. So he’s on the right track. Like so many players, and I’m sure you guys are tired of hearing this from me, he’s just striving for consistency.”
Don’t drop the ball
While a few rookies stood out on Thursday in Green Bay, it wasn’t a great debut for fourth-round running back Donnel Pumphrey.
He struggled on offense and in the punt return game. But more importantly, he struggled holding on to the football. And on Saturday, the first practice after the game, he fumbled the football again.
“Well, I just know this, like every coach knows, you can’t win games and you can’t be on the field — and this is just a general statement — if you can’t hold on to the football,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “Every player knows that in this game. So we talk about it a lot. We want to make sure we drill it. It’s emphasized. Some of it is hard to tell until you get into live action a bunch, that’s why Coach (Doug Pederson) has some live practices during training camp. We’ve had some live practices without putting the ball on the ground too much. So that was probably the most disappointing thing to me, is that we put the ball on the ground four times in that last game. That’s unacceptable and we have to improve upon that.”