Wake-Up Call: Kruger ‘Hungry’ Entering Year 2

Joe Kruger
The Eagles are adding a 6-6, 290-pound defensive lineman to the mix this season. He has 34 3/8 arms, 10-inch hands, and racked up six sacks, eight tackles for a loss and an interception return for a touchdown his junior season en route to All Pac-12 honors.

Joe Kruger is like a new addition to the Eagles, even though he’s physically been with the team for a year already.

Kruger left Utah a year early to enter the NFL Draft. When Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman used a seventh-round pick on him last April, they knew they were getting a developmental player that could pay dividends down the road. Kruger was anxious to show that he could make an impact immediately but suffered a partially-torn labrum in his shoulder last August and was placed on season-ending injured reserve.

“It was a little bit frustrating just because I felt like I could help out the team last year,” said Kruger at the Eagles 18th annual playground build earlier this week.

Instead, the focus turned to rehabbing the injury (he said he was back to full strength by the end of the season), learning the playbook and gearing up for 2014. And here we are. Kruger ended camp at 269 pounds. The Eagles wanted him to bulk up to 290 for his sophomore campaign, and he obliged.

“I feel really good. I feel like I haven’t lost any speed, way more powerful, way stronger,” he said.

Kruger — the brother of Browns linebacker Paul Kruger — is expected to play defensive end in this scheme. The starting spots are currently occupied by Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton, but he’s setting his goals high.

“There’s things that I can say myself but it’s all about performance. I feel confident in my skills — I think I can become a starter, honestly — but it all depends on how I play in camp,” he said. “I definitely think I can be one of the top players on the defensive line but I just have to stay healthy, keep working hard getting the defense down and perform when the time comes.”

Even if he doesn’t chase down a starting spot, there is certainly opportunity to become part of the rotation — especially with Clifton Geathers departing in free agency. Kruger will be competing against the likes of Vinny Curry, Brandon Bair and whomever else the Eagles add between now and September for playing time.

“I’m excited to get back out there, man,” he said. “I’m hungry.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

 “[T]hey are going to be ready for it this year. I know that.” New challenges ahead for Nick Foles. 

The latest draft daily focuses on outside linebacker and tight ends.

Sheil writes that under Kelly, the Eagles have adjusted how they allocate resources.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Andrew Kulp of the 700 Level sees Washington State safety Deone Buchanon as a possible second-round target for the Eagles — assuming he lasts that long.

Bucannon finished among the top three at his position in just about every drill there is—40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump and three-cone drill. At 6’1”, 211 pounds, he also came in bigger than most of the safeties invited to Indianapolis. Based on measureables alone, Bucannon is a superior athlete to both Clinton-Dix and Pryor.

In addition to being a tremendous physical specimen, Bucannon was highly productive in four seasons at Washington State, recording 15 interceptions, 23 pass breakups and seven forced fumbles. He led the Pac-12 in tackles and interceptions as a senior.

Geoff Mosher projects Pittsburgh wideout Devin Street as a late-round option for the Birds.

Remember, the Eagles also released Jason Avant. They need more than just one wideout. Street lacks top-end speed but you can’t knock his production. He started for the past three seasons and left as the school’s all-time leader with 202 receptions.

Street isn’t a burner, but he’s a good downfield blocker who makes good adjustments to catch errant passes and does much of his damage underneath, which makes him a logical replacement for Avant.

COMING UP

One week until the draft. We’ll get it cranked up.

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