Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett battled his way through the Eagles’ 17-9 victory over the Cowboys last Sunday. The third-year player, who is dealing with an ankle injury, which he suffered in Week 13 against the Dolphins, missed two games before returning against Dallas.
While many had expected more out of the former first-round pick, who has 4.5 sacks this season, Barnett is drawing high praise from his defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz.
“I can’t speak to his toughness because he’s one of the toughest players I’ve ever been around,” Schwartz said about Barnett on Tuesday. “The fact that he played the second half of that Miami game with that ankle just was really amazing to me — and to play as well as he did.
“I think he’s always been a guy that will lay it all on the line. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, not the fastest guy in the world, but he is one of the toughest guys in the world, and just brings such a presence when he’s on the field.
“It was an inspiration to me to get him back on the field, just knowing where he had come from and going through that whole week. We really didn’t know how much we were going to be able to get out of him.
“It got close to game time, and we really just treated it like he was any other player. Though we might have to have a pitch count, watch and see what things he could do and everything else, but he just went out and played well for us.
“We had a lot of guys play well. It was one of those games that — there are some games where you can point to one player. A guy will have three sacks, or a guy will make an interception, score, or something, and you can point to one player and say, ‘Yeah, that player had a lot to do with the win.’
“We had a lot of guys that contributed to this [win] just by doing their job. Nothing special. Nothing way out of bounds or whatever. We tackled well, communicated well, covered well, rushed well; we made very few mistakes in the game.
“I think when you keep a team out of the end zone, it’s not a mistake. It was all those guys together. Derek was a big part of that.”
The Eagles have struggled with injuries this season, and it got worse when they placed corner Ronald Darby on IR this week, but just like we saw in 2017 and 2018, the Eagles have found ways to fight through and continue to have success.