PHILADELPHIA — If your Dawg has a dog that needs a sitter, defensive tackle Jordan Davis has the hook-up.
Want a restaurant recommendation? A place to get new threads? Davis and linebacker Nakobe Dean have you covered.
If it’s a hype man you’re in the market for, look no further than linebacker Nolan Smith.
All of this and more can be found on the Philly Dawgs group chat, an ever-active text chain made up of former University of Georgia standouts-turned-Philadelphia Eagles that includes second-year players Dean and Davis, rookies Smith, Jalen Carter and Kelee Ringo, as well as former Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift. It’s part of a support system that has eased the acclimation process for the newcomers while helping embolden Dean and Davis to take the next step in their careers.
“It’s like having a group of your best friends,” Davis said.
“We do everything together. If we’re not together, we’re always talking to each other, making sure everybody is straight, making sure everybody is home safe. It’s that little security. At the end of the day, football is football but we care about [each other] on a deeper level. That’s my bros.”
The Eagles made history by becoming the first team in the common draft era to select five defensive players from the same school over a two-year span, pulling top players from one of the most dominant defenses in NCAA history.
Davis and Dean came first after being selected by the Eagles in the first and third rounds of the 2022 draft and are passing on the knowledge they’ve gained over the last year-plus to the rest of the group.
“We know a little bit more how to work, how to move around in the city, in the facility and things like that. Any questions they have,” Dean said. “And of course we’re friends, everybody cool and we Dawgs so we be on there all day shooting texts back and forth.”
Just this week, Davis was shopping for clothes in Delaware and hit up the text chain to let them know he had found a good spot. They go to each other’s places to watch games or UFC fights or if they just need a change of scenery. They go out to eat together. And with Davis, Carter and Smith all being dog owners — no, none of them own Bulldogs — Davis has passed along his dog-sitter connection.
Smith said Dean was his best friend in college and is leaning on him in the meeting room as he learns the ropes. One of the reasons the Eagles felt comfortable using their first-round pick on Carter, who dropped in April’s draft because of off-field concerns, is they had a unique locker room that included a number of established veterans as well as former Georgia teammates.
It’s not just the rookies who are benefiting. Longtime defensive end Brandon Graham noted that he’s seen a jump in Davis’ comfort level following the additions of Carter, Smith and Ringo, which is positively impacting his play. Davis (aka J.D.) has generated buzz early in camp. He reported in better shape by all accounts and has been working with the first team at defensive tackle alongside Fletcher Cox.
“The only time I really dance in my life is when I’m around J.D.,” said Smith, who serves as a motivator and energy source for the group. “Just because I know it gets the guys’ juices flowing, and when you get guys’ guard down, they’ll go harder for you. With J.D., his battery could be on ‘E’ and I know he’ll give me that extra notch if I go up to him and go, ‘Come on J.D. baby, we need you.’”
“It’s a good thing for me,” said Davis, who noted he was heading in to get extra work in with Carter following his session with the media, “because I don’t want to be a weak link in our group. We hold ourselves to a higher standard. We want to see each other excel.”
Dean is stepping into the starting Mike linebacker role after playing almost exclusively on special teams last season. While there are questions on the outside about what the defense will look like with Dean as the conductor, such doubt does not exist within the Georgia fraternity.
“He was the signal caller [at Georgia] for three years in a row. I know how hard Coach [Kirby] Smart was on him and I know what he expects from himself. … And he’s an engineering major, so if you think his brain is worried about something like this, it ain’t,” Smith said. “When you’re a high-standard person and hold yourself to a high standard, people will follow behind you every day, and that’s what Nakobe is for me.”
There was significant turnover on the defensive side of the ball for the Eagles this offseason, with five starters from the 2022 squad departing in free agency. Dean and Davis are projected starters, and Smith and Carter are expected to jump into the pass-rush rotation immediately. Ringo will begin as a backup in a cornerback room featuring Darius Slay and James Bradberry. Swift, meanwhile, is in contention for the lead running back role following the departure of Miles Sanders.
It’s yet to be seen how they will handle those roles, but the presence of their fellow Bulldogs has them in a good frame of mind at the onset of the season.
“They’re all motivating each other,” Graham said.
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