Philadelphia Eagles fortunate to have Derek Barnett back

Derek Barnett #96, Fletcher Cox #91 (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Derek Barnett #96, Fletcher Cox #91 (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Since last season, Derek Barnett hasn’t been available for the Philadelphia Eagles. Fortunately, he’s back in the mix at defensive end.

We all know last season was not the Philadelphia Eagles year when it came to staying healthy. By the middle of the season, their entire secondary, minus Malcolm Jenkins was made up of backups. Some linebackers missed time, and so did some defensive linemen as well.

Second-year defensive end Derek Barnett was amongst those who were injured and out last year. Despite getting off to a hot start on the season, the former first-round pick ended up appearing in only six games before getting ruled out for the rest of the year.

Up until Saturday, Barnett wasn’t even a full participant for the Eagles in training camp — but now the third-year pass rusher is beginning to ease his way back into the swing of things, and the timing couldn’t be much better.

Derek Barnett returns to action

Once again, the Eagles have had their fair share of injuries, and it’s currently only August. Last week, second-year defensive end Joe Ostman tore his ACL, effectively ending his season. Considering that Michael Bennett is out of the picture and Chris Long retired, the Eagles need all defensive ends not named Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry to prove themselves in order to feel comfortable heading into the new season.

Barnett has shown flashes — but his durability now raises a concern. Last year, he underwent two different surgeries in the matter of a few months. As he recovers in full from the latest, Barnett gets back out onto the Eagles practice field with three weeks left in the preseason.

The chances of Barnett getting preseason reps is sort of slim — but at least the Eagles can feel comfortable with their depth heading into week one with Barnett back in the mix. He will most likely start on the opposite end of Brandon Graham, and will share reps with either Curry or Josh Sweat, depending on which side Jim Schwartz places them on.

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Year three will likely be the most important season in Barnett’s young career. As he’s proven to be a solid backup rotational end, he was gifted the opportunity to start in 2018. A good start was promising, but the injury derailed Barnett’s progress. Now, his third season will prove if Derek Barnett can truly look like a first-round defensive end — or if he’s just a specific role player.