HomeDa Birds NewsBen VanSumeren Brings a Unique Mindset to the Eagles with his Sleepwalking...

Ben VanSumeren Brings a Unique Mindset to the Eagles with his Sleepwalking Tendency

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PHILADELPHIA – “Beware of Dog,” reads the sign that hangs above the locker of undrafted free agent linebacker Ben VanSumeren.

It’s a gift from offensive lineman Cam Jurgens, who says VanSumeren “is the true definition of a dog.”

Since Nick Sirianni took over as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles nearly three years ago, he has preached Dawg Mentality, which is really just a reminder that players and coaches control their destinies.

VanSumeren takes a more literal approach. His mentality is more of a dog mentality, especially when he walks in his sleep. He doesn’t sleepwalk often, but when he does, he sometimes takes on a dog’s persona, growling and barking.

He said that team security officials would check on him in his hotel room the night before games and he would bark and growl at them, asleep the whole time while he did it. Now, they just knock.

“I think it’s funny because our whole thing here and one of our mottos is Dawg Mentality, so Cam ran with it,” said VanSumeren. “He said I have that dog mentality ingrained so deep in me I’m doing it subconsciously in a dream state. I think it’s funny.”

Ben VanSumeren beneath the sign that Cam Jurgens ordered for him because of the linebacker’s sleepwalking habits.

Ed Kracz/SI Eagles Today

VanSumeren, 23, said he began sleepwalking in middle school.

The Mayo Clinic defines sleepwalking – also known as somnambulism – involves getting up and walking around while in a state of sleep. It’s more common in children than adults, sleepwalking is usually outgrown by the teen years. Isolated incidents of sleepwalking often don’t signal any serious problems or require treatment.

Whatever the cause, VanSumeren never turns the game off, even in his sleep when he gets up and moves around the room. He said that his girlfriend woke up one morning and told him he was walking around asleep and mentioned two of his friends by name.

It turned out that he wasn’t talking about any friends but barking out the different names of the defense.

“That was really just me calling the defense in my sleep, which is just funny,” he said. “I always have the game on my mind. I love it.”

Intense passion for the game, where you sleep it, can drive players to develop into good or great NFL players.

It’s what helped T.J. Edwards go from Eagles undrafted free agent in 2019, when he played primarily special teams, to one of the better linebackers in the game now, albeit with the Chicago Bears after Philly let him walk after last season.

It’s what helped Morrow go from an undrafted player to an important part of this Eagles’ defense.

VanSumeren was out of practice squad elevations after being promoted the previous three games, though he played only on special teams. His first defensive snap will be the first of his career.

“The undrafted route’s a grind, but really it’s just a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “Special team reps are good because you get to contribute to the team in that way, but also you get more comfortable with being out there and being on that stage. I think that’s the start of it.”

Related: Eagles Not Bothered by 49ers Trash Talk, Underdog Role

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