Alex Singleton and T.J. Edwards have battled back and forth all spring and summer long to try to win one of the precious few spots available on the Eagles’ linebacker corps.
One game here, a practice there, and it seems like Singleton has the leg up. The next game, another practice, and it seems like Edwards (pictured above) has the advantage.
Both players have become close friends, leaning on each other even as they compete against each other.
“By this time we’ve been together for six months straight, so everybody is a friend now, somebody you spend more than football with,” said Singleton. “They’re friends, lifelong friends. You may not see them again for a while, but at the end of the day, you’re better friends than you are just competitors.”
The final audition for all of the bubble linebackers – and several others at various positions - comes Thursday night when the Eagles play at the New York Jets.
VIDEO: T.J. Edwards talk about his first NFL camp
Maybe there’s room for both to make the Eagles’ 53-man roster, which must be the number by Saturday afternoon.
For that to happen, the Eagles would have to make a surprise cut, someone like Nate Gerry or L.J. Fort. Nigel Bradham, Zach Brown, Kamu Grugier-Hill have spots locked down. If the Eagles keep five linebackers, Edwards and Singleton would fill in behind those three.
If the Eagles keep six, then they could still keep Edwards and Singleton and either Gerry or Fort.
The Eagles, though, have muddied the linebacker position further in recent days, adding Chris Worley on Monday and Hayes Pullard on Tuesday. Pullard has NFL experience, making 72 tackles for the Chargers two years ago.
“We’re all real close,” said Singleton. “Our (linebacker) group is small. It’s a lot of guys who had to work (to make it into the NFL). Besides Zach and Nigel, there isn’t any big-time draft picks that made all that money and done all that flashy stuff. It’s all guys that have had to work hard and make a name for themselves.”
Edwards is in his first year after being signed in May as an undrafted free agent out of Wisconsin.
“It’s definitely been a good journey, one I’ve gotten a lot of experience from,” said Edwards. “I just want to focus on this game and put my best foot forward. I’m excited to just get out there and play.
“Each day I’ve just been trying to get better and better. Each game I’ve felt more comfortable with the scheme and things like that. I’m excited to go out there and leave everything out on the field because obviously I don’t know what will happen after that so I want to leave the best mark that I can.”
Singleton has been cut seven times before leaving for Canada three years ago to play in the CFL. He won a Grey Cup in the CFL with the Calgary Stampeders last year.
“For me, having been in camps, bounced around, I’ve been able to tell T.J., show him - the first couple weeks he’s in his head about missing reps and stuff - so it’s, ‘Hey let it go, you’ll get a lot more, I promise you.’
“To be able to have that for him, I’m sure it’s helped. For me to see the young guy, the never-been-cut-before attitude, it’s different coming from college. You don’t have that experience, yet and I’m like, well, I’ve been cut seven times. So it happens.”
The numbers Singleton and Edwards have put up are quite similar through three games.
Singleton has made 12 tackles with two tackles for loss and a forced fumble. His six tackles against the Jaguars led the team. He has played 108 defensive snaps.
Edwards has made 11 tackles with two for loss. The seven tackles he made against the Ravens led the team. He has played 121 snaps.
The difference between the two, and what could be a determining factor if at least one of them makes the team, could be special teams.
Edwards has played 46 special team snaps; Singleton has played 26.
“Hopefully I’m an Eagle for the next 10 years,” said Singleton. “Everybody I think should show up and expect to be an All Pro player in 10 years. That should be where you’re going, or want to be in the Hall of Fame. I think those are things you should be thinking about.
“Right now, though, I’m thinking about the Jets and what they’re going to run on offense. I have four quarters of defense and special teams and thinking about where I’m going to get oxygen before I have to worry about those things. That’ll come in time. Until then I’ll just play football.”