Eagles’ Ndamukong Suh, Linval Joseph ready to make their decisions pay off

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Eagles’ oldest newcomers ready to make their decisions pay off originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph were drafted a round apart in 2010 and have spent over the last decade playing defensive line in the NFL.

But they didn’t really know each other.

“Honestly, we hadn’t crossed paths as much as you would think being in this league for the same amount of time,” Suh said this week.

They know each other pretty well now.

The Eagles signed Suh and Joseph on consecutive days in November, bolstering an already impressive defensive line rotation in Philly. And then the Eagles made Suh and Joseph next-door locker neighbors at the NovaCare Complex.

“I didn’t know Suh like I know him now,” Jospeh said pointing at the locker stall next to him. “Now, I talk to him every day. I get him going. It’s nice to have another older guy here as well. It makes you feel like you’re not alone.

“If I’m having a low day, I could look at him. He’s having a low day, he looks at me. Every day I’m going to bring it, I’m going to give it my best shot. He knows he can’t come in here and try to give me half effort. ‘You gotta pick it up, you gotta do it. Together, together. We’re a package deal.’”

Joseph at 34 years old is one of the oldest players on the team but he’s not the oldest. That distinction belongs to the 36-year-old Suh, who was the second oldest defensive lineman in the NFL this season behind just Calais Campbell.

When Joseph and Suh arrived in November, they each said they had never officially retired but spent the first couple months out of the league as they waited for the right opportunity. They weren’t going to play for just any team and the Eagles were special, they were true contenders.

A couple months later, as the Eagles prepare for the Giants in the divisional round, it’s time for both guys to make those decisions pay off.

Both Joseph and Suh have Super Bowl rings so they know what it takes.

“Just gotta take it one day at a time, man,” Joseph said. “Just like I told you when I first got here. This is a hell of a team; we’re strong at a lot of points. But at the end of the day, we have to play together. We have to make less mistakes than the other team. We know what we can do. We just have to do it.”

Since joining the team in mid-November, the Eagles rattled off five consecutive wins with Joseph and Suh on the team before dropping a couple late in the season.

But the Eagles still earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC and the very important bye week that came with it.

“I think I definitely made the right decision,” Suh said. “There’s a handful of other teams across the league and other guys that don’t have this opportunity. It’s important to take advantage of it and make the most of it. I think this group is prepared to do that. Obviously, our first step is to take care of the Giants.”

Joseph and Suh have both been Pro Bowlers, they’ve both won Super Bowls and they both have a wealth of NFL experience. But joining a team in the middle of the season can be tricky. The Eagles weren’t exactly lacking for veteran leadership, especially in the D-line room with guys like Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham.

So it has been about picking the right moments to impart some of their knowledge.

“You fit in when you need to fit in,” Joseph said. “This ain’t my team. Coming into a team and I just had to learn what I can. Wherever I feel I can help, I try to be a help.”

Joseph said this defensive line room reminds him a lot of the room he was in with the Giants early in his career, when he and Jason Pierre-Paul were the young guys surrounded by veterans on their second and third contracts.

Joseph remembers sitting in that room, looking at JPP, and realizing they couldn’t even keep up with the fast-paced conversations about football and the NFL going on around them. That’s probably what Jordan Davis and Milton Williams are going through these days. But Joseph likes the symmetry of his career that he’s now one of the veterans in a group like this.

And it’s not like these two were brought in for their leadership. They were brought in because the Eagles wanted some more depth and they had something left in the tank to give.

Joseph and Suh are no longer stars but they’ve become important pieces for this Eagles team, averaging 23.6 and 22 snaps per game over their eight games with the Eagles.

As you might expect, they have really enjoyed being a part of a team again. It’s often the moments away from the field that retired players miss most and sitting out the first couple months of this season gave them a taste of that.

They’ve also enjoyed getting to know one another. A bond forged by a pretty similar set of circumstances.

“Great dude, fun-loving, always high energy, which is great to have,” Suh said. “It’s been a joy to be a locker mate with him but also teammates with him on the defensive line.”

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