Fletcher Cox is playing in the first Super Bowl he’s seeing.Or so he says.|
The three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle is a big reason why the Philadelphia Eagles are facing the New England Patriots next Sunday in Minneapolis for a chance to bring home the franchise’s first Vince Lombardi Trophy.
But the 27-year-old Cox isn’t much of a football fan. He insists he’s never even watched a Super Bowl.
”I don’t watch sports Adidas Jonathan Quick Jersey ,” Cox said. ”You know that.”
If he spends the night getting in Tom Brady’s face and helps the Eagles win their first NFL title since 1960, Cox may want to watch the highlights sometime.
First, all that matters is winning.
”We haven’t been talked about all year,” Cox said. ”That’s our story. No one has been talking about the Eagles, the defense, or the offense. If you go back and look, we finished in the top five of a bunch of different categories. This team just keeps finding ways to win, and that’s our motto.”
Cox, the 12th overall pick in the 2012 draft, had 5+ sacks in 14 games, recovered two fumbles and returned one for a touchdown. He often faces two or three blockers, so that allows his teammates opportunities to make plays.
”Cox is as good as anybody in the league at his position Evander Kane Sharks Jersey ,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ”He’s a very disruptive player, hard to block, run, pass, no matter what it is.”
Earning praise from Belichick doesn’t come easy. Cox appreciates it.
”It’s a lot of respect from a coach like Belichick, a guy that’s been around, a guy that’s seen a lot of great players in this league,” he said. ”For him to say that that means I obviously must be doing something right. But at the same time, I’ve got three other guys besides me that’s helping me push that limit, that’s helping me get that recognition and I want to do the same thing for those guys.”
The Eagles have plenty of depth on their defensive line. Ends Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry and tackle Tim Jernigan start along with Cox. Chris Long, Derek Barnett and Beau Allen also played at least 40 percent of the snaps.
”I wish it was just four (linemen),” Belichick said. ”It’s a very disruptive group. They have some edge rushers Adidas Eric Staal Jersey , a good interior pass rush. They come hard every play. You have to block them on every play. There are no plays off. To deal with that front down after down, they wear you down. It’s a great group and a huge strength for their defense.”
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has enough confidence in all the players to rotate them in and out for series at a time. Because they split reps, they still look fresh this late in the season. It showed in a pair of dominant performances against the Falcons and Vikings in the playoffs.
”To roll in that many guys and not see a drop-off, it’s great,” Cox said. ”We’re pushing those guys to be on the same level as us.”
Cox knows harassing Brady is the key to success against the Patriots. The Giants sacked Brady five times in their stunning Super Bowl upset 10 years ago, spoiling New England’s perfect season.
Led by Cox and Graham, the Eagles generate a strong rush without having to blitz much. They’ll need to keep extra defenders in the secondary against Brady.
”It’s going to come down to the front four guys getting after the quarterback, making him uncomfortable in the pocket,” Cox said.
Easier said than done against Brady.
AP NFL website:
LOS ANGELES — Two things Clayton Kershaw clearly hates: Being on the disabled list and having pitch restrictions while on the mound.
The Los Angeles Dodgers‘ left-hander might be done with both when he takes the mound Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Kershaw will be making his third start since coming off the disabled list for his most recent back injury and has been trending in a positive direction.
What Kershaw would like to see is more of the offense the Dodgers showed in Monday’s series opener, when the club scored 17 runs on 21 hits in an easy victory.
Tasked with slowing that offense at Dodger Stadium, while matching Kershaw pitch for pitch, will be Pirates right-hander Ian Nova.
If Kershaw is almost all the way back on top after an injury Adidas Shea Weber Jersey , Nova is there already. In four starts since coming off the DL because of a sprained right finger, Nova is 2-0 with a 1.75 ERA.
Kershaw is only this far along in his return from the DL because the Dodgers pulled a last-minute switch on June 23, and had him pitch in New York against the Mets instead of with Triple-A Oklahoma City on a rehab outing.
Kershaw threw 55 pitches against the Mets, giving up two runs on five hits over three innings. On June 28 against the Chicago Cubs, Kershaw was back at it, throwing 68 pitches while giving up one run on four hits over five innings.
A natural progression would have Kershaw at about 80 pitches on Tuesday, but Kershaw has a way of getting more out of himself when the situation requires it.
“I’ve proven that I’m healthy,” Kershaw told reporters after his most recent start. “So now, next time out I’m sure the restriction should hopefully be pretty close to off. (I will) get ready and just try to beat an opponent.”
Nova has thrown between 86 and 94 pitches in his four starts since coming off the DL and has given up one or no runs in three of those outings. The one where he did not was on Wednesday at New York. But he did hold the Mets to three runs over six innings, keeping the Pirates close enough to put together a ninth-inning rally for a victory.
That victory was part of a Pirates run where they won four of six games and took series at New York and San Diego. Sure there was a five-game losing streak before that, but going back even further, the Pirates had won four of five.
So even though they were roughed up by the Dodgers on Monday Adidas Carey Price Jersey , the Pirates have learned the value of resiliency.
“We’re well aware of what we need to improve upon,” manager Clint Hurdle said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We’re well aware of our monthly progress and then some of our monthly challenges. Love the fact that the game brings attention to specific areas, daily, weekly, monthly, and then I love to watch how some guys are able to fight and battle and work through it.”
Up next is a challenge against Kershaw, who is 2-3 with a 3.18 ERA in 11 career starts against Pittsburgh. The Pirates are one of two National League teams Kershaw has a losing record against in the regular season, along with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Nova knows his way around the Dodgers, going 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA in two starts, one in each of the previous two seasons.