HomeDa Birds NewsNakobe Dean discusses his "sulk period" following injuries in a recent interview

Nakobe Dean discusses his “sulk period” following injuries in a recent interview

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Nakobe Dean discusses his “sulk period” following injuries in a recent interview

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Eagles went all in on second-year linebacker Nakobe Dean this season and a pair of foot injuries derailed the plan, resulting in a makeshift mindset at the position for much of the season.

Veterans Nicholas Morrow and Zach Cunningham were serviceable at times and names like Christian Elliss, Shaq Leonard, and Ben VanSumeren had to tag in at times as the Eagles’ defense collapsed en route to a first-round 32-9 playoff loss at Tampa Bay, which featured 13 missed tackles.

By Wednesday’s cleanout day at the NovaCare Complex, it was almost like Morrow, Cunningham, and Leonard were never there with lockers cleaned out and an eye on their next NFL destinations. In Leonard’s case, it might even be retirement while Elliss was long ago lost to waivers and New England when GM Howie Roseman tried to play some roster game with the young special teams star.

Nakobe Dean
Nakobe Dean suffered injuries to both of his feet this season. John McMullen Eagles Today

Nakobe Dean, meanwhile, was front and center, still in a walking boot after surgery for a Lisfranc injury.

“It was frustrating,” Dean said after playing in just five games on what became a lost season after an impressive 10-1 start. “It was frustrating for everybody though. It was frustrating for the organization, it was frustrating for the players, for the fans.”The biggest hurdle for Dean was the mental aspect and “accepting” things after the second injury required surgery and six weeks on a Roll-A-Bout scooter.

“Being somebody that never missed practice, never missed a game throughout college. Even last year, never got hurt, never missed practice, never missed a game. To miss more than half a season [was difficult],” Nakobe Dean admitted. “The sulk period didn’t last long. It was like ‘Alright, what I gotta do to better myself? To get myself back right?'”

There was never time to get a real feel for what Dean was becoming as a player after essentially redshirting during his rookie season in 2022 as a third-round pick out of Georgia. The Eagles bet on Dean and allowed veterans T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White to leave in free agency with little pushback. The result was just 182 snaps to judge which showed Dean has the natural instincts to be a solid run-support player but one that was limited in coverage.

Pro Football Focus had Nakobe Dean with plus grades defending the run in four of his five appearances with the outlier being a poor performance against Miami in Week 7, ironically perhaps Philadelphia’s best defensive game of the season. The coverage grades were weaker with poor performances in Week 1 at New England, Week 8 at Washington, and Week 9 against Dallas when he was lost for the season.

Where Nakobe Dean really could have helped was as a tackler going 5-for-5 in positive marks and being credited with no missed tackles in his 182 reps. Cunningham led the team with 15 missed tackles in 787 reps and Morrow had eight in 898.

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“They know who I am,” Dean said of the Eagles. “If they don’t then I’ll help [prove it] this season.”

LB Nakobe Dean is two weeks away from losing his walking boot and noted that he doesn’t even need it right now but the Eagles are playing things cautiously. He plans to stay in the area to finish his rehab and presumably set the tone en route to taking over as the on-field defensive leader again.

“I don’t need the boot [right now] but the protocol is you need the boot for 12 weeks so I still got two more weeks in the boot and yeah, we are just working day in and day out,” Dean said. “I’ll be in Philly the whole time. Through OTAs and all that. I’m not gonna go nowhere. I’m rehabbing here.”

The ultimate goal is to prove the 2023 season was pressing pause and not stop on Dean’s future with the Eagles.

“Whatever happens, I’m gonna be ready to work,” Dean said. “I just want what’s best for this team. … That’s what I want and I feel the best players will play. I’m gonna work and be the best version of myself.”

The Nakobe Dean return will happen, but won’t be until the start of the 2024 25 season.

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