Are the Eagles getting serious about upgrading their linebackers unit? The team brought in an intriguing young prospect for a tryout on Thursday afternoon ahead of their divisional showdown with New York.
Curtis Bolton was waived by the Packers on Oct. 6 after starting the year on the PUP list in Green Bay. The 24-year-old tore his ACL lats year in a preseason game. The Eagles worked Bolton out, per NFL reporter Aaron Wilson.
Bolton was making a name for himself in the Cheese State before his injury, though. The California native, by way of Hawaii, had earned a starting spot in the Packers’ base defense and racked up eight tackles in two preseason games. Bolton was also viewed as a disruptive tackler and a willing blocker on special teams.
“He’s very instinctive,” Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said, via USA Today. “He knows how to slip blocks. He knows he shouldn’t be taking on guards and tackles directly head-on. He understands it. He’s done a real nice job of soaking in what we’re doing and applying it on the field.”
Bolton went undrafted out of Oklahoma in 2019 and finished his college career with 158 total tackles (13 for loss), along with 4.5 sacks, two passes defensed and two fumble recoveries in 25 games. He took one of those fumble recoveries to the house for a touchdown. He was a second-team midseason All-American in 2018 but injuries have always been an issue, including a season-ending ankle injury in 2017.
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Eagles Keep Denying Any LB Troubles
It’s not like Bolton could come in and be the Eagles’ savior at linebacker. They would need to make a trade — say, Zach Cunningham or Avery Williamson — to substantially upgrade the position in the middle of a season. But maybe they are starting to acknowledge they have an issue at the position.
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has repeatedly denied the Eagles haven’t prioritized linebacker. They feel confident in rolling out veterans Nate Gerry, Duke Riley and Alex Singleton — second-year standout T.J. Edwards remains on IR — and mixing in rookies Shaun Bradley and Davion Taylor.
“This year, we put some draft picks in there. We have the guys that we have,” Schwartz said. “We’re going to work hard to put those guys in good position. But I don’t think from anyone’s standpoint it’s not a priority for us.”
Riley Ready to Return Versus New York
Meanwhile, Riley was given a clean bill of health to return to the field for “Thursday Night Football.” He missed last week’s game with a rib injury after being carted off the field in Week 5 against Pittsburgh. He has accumulated 24 total tackles and half a sack in five games (three starts).
Riley has been a locker-room favorite among his teammates ever since he arrived in Philly midway through last year. He was immediately named a special-teams captain and earned the coveted C on his jersey again this year. He’s a high-motor guy who flat-out loves playing football.
“You can ask everybody in the locker room. I’m going to work hard and go hard for everybody,” Riley said on Sept. 8. “That’s the standard I set for myself. This is pretty much all I have in life. I don’t know how to do anything else besides fish. Other than that, this is all I have.”
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