Thornton praised for his work ethic on defensive line

DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Cedric Thornton tackles the Giants' David Wilson in the teams' earlier meeting this month.
DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Cedric Thornton tackles the Giants' David Wilson in the teams' earlier meeting this month.
Posted: October 25, 2013

CEDRIC THORNTON doesn't look like a guy you'd peg as a run-stopper of a defensive lineman. At 6-3, 309, he's kind of rangy. If you didn't know his listed weight and someone told you he was a linebacker, you wouldn't look askance.

But Thornton, an undrafted second-year man from Southern Arkansas, has a 14.9 "run-stop percentage," according to the Pro Football Focus website, and that happens to be the highest in the NFL, by PFF's reckoning. No. 2 is that J.J. Watt dude, down in Houston. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Eagles' defense, ranked last overall, is 12th against the run.

"It's just a mentality, refusing to get blocked and wanting to make plays," Thornton said this week. "It's just effort and technique and film study; I do a lot of film-watching, basically the formation. If you know if it's a run down or a passing down, you can almost anticipate where the ball's going to go to . . . In college [in 2009], I had 80 tackles, playing defensive end. I've always been a person to make plays."

Thornton also had 23 tackles for a loss and 8 1/2 sacks that season for the Muleriders, numbers he is unlikely to achieve as a 3-4 d-end for the Eagles. A lot of plays, Thornton doesn't get credit for anything except pushing the guy in front of him backward, making it easier for a linebacker or a safety to make a tackle or notch a sack. Thornton has only one sack this season, but coach Chip Kelly, asked yesterday to identify his best pass rusher so far, said: "Ced, I would say. There's a lot of them, but if you had me pick one, I would say consistently, through seven games, I would say Cedric."

Defensive-line coach Jerry Azzinaro said he thinks Thornton "already has more contacts to the ball this year than he had all of last year."

"I think that's a testament to his work ethic," Azzinaro said.

Linebacker Trent Cole said Thornton is good against the run, because "he's very tough-minded."

"He knows what he wants to do . . . He's a smart player . . . He can move when he wants to move, and he just sees it - he's got the knack for where the ball's at," Cole said. "That comes from being a smart player, watching film.

"When game time comes, you've seen it unfold in front of your face, and you know what's coming."

You might have heard by now, the Eagles set a franchise record with their ninth home loss in a row Sunday against Dallas. This Sunday, they play the last team they defeated at Lincoln Financial Field, the New York Giants, who fell, 19-17, on Sept. 30, 2012. How long ago was that? Demetress Bell started at left tackle for the Eagles.

"Just for the fans' sake, we've got a packed house out there every game, and the fact that we're not bringing home a win, and it's been over a year - it's time. We've got to bring home a win," tight end Brent Celek said.

"The fans have come out every week and given us the support we need. We just gotta give 'em a win," right guard Todd Herremans said. "It's been too long. I think that's unacceptable. They deserve a win."

The Giants have lost eight road games in a row, having won away from home most recently on Oct. 28, 2012, at Dallas. So there's that.

It sounds as if quarterback Nick Foles might still have concussion symptoms. When Chip Kelly was asked yesterday why Foles hasn't taken the ImPACT test yet, Kelly said: "He has to do a certain amount from a physical standpoint, and then they determine the next step after you do a physical, where he is, what his symptoms are, and then the next step is the ImPACT testing, from my understanding. He hasn't taken the test yet. I know he did some physical stuff with our trainers today" . . . Cornerback Bradley Fletcher (knee) practiced fully and pronounced himself "good to go" . . . Safety Patrick Chung was listed as a limited participant . . . Giants CB Corey Webster, a partial practice participant Wednesday with a groin problem, did not practice yesterday. Ditto defensive tackle Shaun Rogers (knee) and running back Brandon Jacobs (hamstring) . . . The Eagles expect the Giants to try to beat them with the long ball, but that is one of the few things the Birds' defense has been pretty good at preventing this season. "That's one of the things about Eli [Manning]," Chip Kelly said. "He's such an accurate deep ball passer. I think that's something he enjoys, and I expect him to take a couple more shots on Sunday."

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