The newest Eagle calls himself “a monster on the field” and “a wrecking ball.”
Meet Genard Avery, who the Eagles acquired from the Browns Monday in exchange for a 2021 fourth-round draft pick.
At 6-foot, 250 pounds, he sure doesn’t look like a defensive end. In fact, when he plays for the Eagles, he’ll become the shortest defensive end in franchise history, a distinction currently held by a handful of 6-1 guys, most recently Darryl Tapp in 2010 and 2011.
Guess what he says to that: “Size is not on the stat sheet when you get sacks.”
If he can produce, who cares how tall he is.
“You can’t play their game,” the similarly built but slightly taller Brandon Graham said. “You can’t play the big-boy game. Sometimes you’ve got to set them up with speed and get them off-balance a little bit. But he’s doing a good job from what I can see so far.”
Avery had 4 1/2 sacks as an outside linebacker with the Browns last year, then became a forgotten man in Cleveland this year, getting just five snaps on defense before the Browns unloaded him.
Avery didn’t want to talk about Cleveland: “I’m focused on the Bears, man. Focused on my opportunity here.”
Can’t blame him. Who would want to talk about being part of that franchise?
“He got a motor though, for real,” Graham said after practice Wednesday. “I told him, 'Man, you’re motivating me to go out there and make sure I get to this ball and make sure I keep doing it.' Because he can do it, I gotta make sure I do it. Can’t have somebody come in here and show you how to practice. Supposed to be the other way around. He’s just exciting. He’s got a shot, you know? He looks good already. I just want to see how well we work well together. If you’re going to help us, we’re going to help each other.”
Avery was originally the Browns’ fifth-round pick in 2018. He averaged 42 defensive snaps per game last year before falling out of favor this year.
“He is strong,” Jim Schwartz said, “He's not the tallest guy in the world, but he is sort of thick and strong, and Brandon Graham is sort of the same way. He's not quite as heavy as Brandon, but the way we play those edges I think he can be successful in our run defense as well as pass. … We're excited to have him, and he's done some good things pass rushing and we'll try to get him up to speed as quick as we can.”
Avery said he’s already in the gameplan for the Eagles’ game against the Bears Sunday at the Linc.
At whose expense?
Graham has five sacks, all in the last four games, and Derek Barnett has 3 1/2, all in the last five games.
But Daeshon Hall, Josh Sweat and Vinny Curry have one apiece — one fewer than Orlando Scandrick — and Shareef Miller hasn’t played.
Will be interesting to see who's active, who's inactive, who's part of the rotation.
The Eagles had 10 sacks against the hapless Jets but they have just 11 in their seven other games.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Avery said. “They love me here. … They welcomed me with open arms. Do what I can and take advantage of my opportunity. … It’s a winning organization. I’m ready to win.”
Avery is the first defensive player the Eagles have acquired at the trade deadline since 2009, when they shipped wide receiver Brandon Gibson and a 5th-round pick to the Rams for linebacker Will Witherspoon.
The Eagle most familiar with Avery is kicker Jake Elliott, his teammate at Memphis from 2014 through 2016.
“He’s going to go get the ball, I’ll tell you that,” Elliott said. “Quick twitch, fast dude, big powerful guy, gets off the ball, always the strongest guy in the weight room, and it shows on the field. I don’t really know what happened in Cleveland, but I know he’s happy to be here.”
Avery’s favorite moment during his brief stint with the Browns?
He strip-sacked Nick Foles in a preseason game last summer.
“It was a highlight of my (time) in Cleveland.”
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