Hunt gets his chance

Phillip Hunt is fired up for his first NFL start.
Phillip Hunt is fired up for his first NFL start. (YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: September 17, 2011

FROM HIS COACHES to his teammates, everyone has told defensive end Phillip Hunt: Be ready. You never know when your time is going to come.

No one had to bother. Hunt has been "ready" for the opportunity he will get tomorrow night for years. With Darryl Tapp sidelined with a pectoral injury, Hunt is expected to see his first NFL action when the Eagles play in Atlanta tomorrow night.

"I feel like I am 100 percent ready," Hunt said. "I am going to go out there, play with a lot of energy and look for good things to happen."

Getting to the NFL has been a hard climb for Hunt, who at 6-foot and 248 pounds is undersized for his position. The 2008 Conference USA defensive player of the year his senior year at Houston, Hunt signed with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2009, only to be released just before the season opener.

But Hunt persevered. He signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, of the Canadian Football League, and put up some impressive numbers. Last year, he led the league in sacks with 16. That led to an invitation to work out for some NFL teams, including the Eagles and Dolphins.

Hunt signed a 3-year contract with the Eagles in February.

"Going to play in Canada was great," Hunt said. "They gave me an opportunity as soon as I got there, and I made the most of it. They gave me a chance to make a name for myself."

Hunt added that the Eagles' defense suits his style of play.

"It does," he said. "You know, they want us to get up field and attack and I can do that. I have a good 'get off' and I'm good at doing what they want us to do."

And that is?

Hunt grinned and said, "Hitting the quarterback."

From what he has seen, he expects the NFL to be somewhat more challenging than the CFL.

"The concepts are the same, but the game is faster," said Hunt, who received a roster bonus his first week that approximated half of what he earned for the entire season last year with Winnipeg. Hunt said he did not "add it up but it was pretty significant."

Now that he has the chance to play, Hunt added that he planned to capitalize on it.

"The opportunity has presented itself," he said. "Now, I just want to go out there, make plays and do what I have to do to be a legitimate player in the league."

So how excited is Hunt?

"Very," he said. "To be on the platform, when I have a chance to show the skills I have, is an honor. Just playing in this organization is a blessing to me."

Peters injured

Left tackle Jason Peters injured an ankle yesterday near the end of practice and is listed as "questionable" for tomorrow's game.

Eagles coach Andy Reid said Peters "came out with Achilles' tenderness. Nothing looks to be too serious, so they're going to check it out and see how he's doing. He seems to be doing well now."

King Dunlap replaced Peters during practice and would presumably replace him at the position if Peters cannot play.

Vick on Atlanta

Quarterback Michael Vick said he would be "lying" if he said he were not excited to be going back to play at the Georgia Dome. Vick starred for the Falcons for six seasons before going to prison for his participation in a dogfighting ring.

"Absolutely," he said. "But you just have to be able to know that it's a game that we have to get taken care of. It's going to be great to go back to the Dome, but at the same time our emotions have to be under control and you just have to be a pro about everything."

How does Vick size up the Falcons' defense?

"They're a very aggressive defense," he said. "I think they have strengths in all areas, you know, the pass rush, the linebackers doing their job [and] they cover well in the secondary. So it's just going to be about us executing, you know, [getting] in and out of the huddle and using our speed to try and create advantages."

Vick added that the Eagles' offensive line is beginning to gel.

"I mean we've only been together for a month-and-a-half, a little longer than that. But I think as far as our improvement, we've made them week in and week out and we're only getting better and getting more comfortable," he said.

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