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The Curious Case Of Ricky Sapp

DE Sapp Placed On IR; Eagles Sign DE

By Lance Epstein

When the Eagles took Clemson DE Ricky Sapp in the fifth-round of this year's NFL Draft, fans were ecstatic about getting a player with second-round talent in the fifth. Unfortunately for Sapp and Eagles fans, his season has come to an end much earlier than those fans expected.

Today, the Philadelphia Eagles put Sapp on injured reserved, which means he will not suit up at all for the 2010 season. Additionally, the Eagles picked up DE Pannel Egboh off of waivers to replace his roster spot.

A couple of days ago, Sapp -who was already dealing with a knee problem- tweaked his knee at practice while on special teams. Initially, the Eagles believe he would be able to comeback without having surgery.

However, an MRI on Tuesday changed those plans. According to Eagletarian blog (Philadelphia Daily News reporter Les Bowen’s blog) confirms that head coach Andy Reid told him that Sapp’s knee would require surgery. In addition, Sapp has also tweeted that he will need surgery on his knee.

This is not the first time that Sapp has needed surgery on the knee. During his junior year at Clemson, Sapp tore his right ACL in the last game of the season. Sapp managed to return to the field for his senior campaign, but constantly stated that his knee was not at full strength. That could have been because his first surgery may not have been done accurately much like Eagles TE Cornelis Ingram. Last year, Ingram complained of the same problem with his surgically repaired knee coming out of Florida.

Hopefully for Sapp, he can come back stronger next year and make the impact that the Eagles hoped he'd be when drafting him.

Instead of crying over spilt milk, the Eagles moved fast in acquiring Egboh, who was waived by the Texans on Sunday. Egboh (6-6.287) was an undrafted rookie free agent out of Stanford in 2009. At Sanford, he started 36 games and recorded 98 tackles, 15.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.

Ultimately, he signed with the San Francisco 49ers as a rookie free agent, but did not make the final 53-man roster. Eventually the Texans picked him up and put them on their practice squad for the final four weeks of the 2009 season.

For Egboh, he needs to be extremely impressive in the Eagles preseason finale against the New York Jets if he anticipates making the Eagles 53-man roster. Right now, it looks like Egboh is just another body for the Eagles to use heading into their final preseason game.

As for Sapp, it appears like he is getting the Ingram and former Eagle DE Bryan Smith treatment. The Eagles have been known to draft a player who is injured or a bit of a project with a ton of upside, but needs a year of strength training or rehab to compete.

By placing the player on IR, both he and the Eagles benefit. The Eagles do not lose a player that they believe can help them down the road. For the player, he gets a full year of rehab with the club’s trainers to get stronger and can focus on learning the nuances of the playbook. This allows the player to be at 100 percent physically and mentally for the following season.

The Eagles were hoping (still are) that Sapp could be molded into a Jevon Kearse type of defensive end. With the Eagles, Kearse played the all-important Joker position. The position requires a defensive end to rusher the passer as well as drop back into coverage to cover tight ends and running backs. Of course Sapp had some experience doing this in college, where he was asked to play the "Bandit" position in the Tigers defense (same position just called bandit not joker).

Nevertheless, his injury might be a blessing in disguise for him and the team. During the team's OTAs, he was working with the linebackers, but looked to be a step behind and uncomfortable in coverage. When he was moved back to his natural defensive end position at the start of training camp, he was not much better and was in danger of being cut.

Ultimately, the news is upsetting for the Eagles organization today, but the future is still bright. If Sapp can come back healthy next year, he could find himself in a heated competition for a roster spot and be the replacement for an aging Juqua Parker.

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