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C.J. Gardner-Johnson “making presence known” in Eagles secondary

The Philadelphia Eagles defense has rose to the occasion in several games in 2022 and Sunday’s dominant performance vs. rivals Dallas Cowboys was no different.

C.J. Gardner-Johnson excelled for Jonathan Gannon’s defensive unit in Sunday’s 26-17 win over the Cowboys, registering two interceptions from his safety position. An offseason acquisition from the New Orleans Saints, Gardner-Johnson came to the Eagles with only five interceptions over his first three NFL seasons. Now with three interceptions in his first six appearances for the Eagles, Gardner-Johnson admitted he is enjoying his positional change to safety from cornerback.

“I am feeling better,” Gardner-Johnson said. “I am getting better adjusting to the defense and playing with what coach tells me to play. Put your eyes in the right spot, read your keys, and go get the ball. I haven’t played the middle of the field in so long, so it feels good to come out onto the field like a hawk and go get the ball.”

“I think it’s just his presence,” wide receiver A.J. Brown said about Gardner-Johnson. “He makes his presence known. He’s flying around, he’s talking, and he wants to create a big hit to give us momentum. His energy is infectious.”

Gardner-Johnson led the way for the Eagles secondary, who totaled three total interceptions against Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush. Along with fellow defensive weapon Darius Slay, Gardner-Johnson and the Eagles defense helped shut down the surging Cowboys offense, handing them their first loss since Week 1.

The Eagles secondary have grown into one of the dominant groups in the NFL this season, with Slay, Gardner-Johnson, and James Bradberry all delivering key moments through the team’s 6-0 start. There are still plenty of regular season games left on their schedule, but the Eagles are flying high heading into their Week 7 bye week before returning to action against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“We have guys in the room who are willing to help the next man be great,” Slay said about the secondary. “With myself, [Eagles CB] JB [James Bradberry], [Eagles S] Chauncey [Gardner-Johnson]- we all just took them in and treated them like family. We just try to do everything we can to put them in the best position to win and that’s how the group is. The group wants everyone to win.”

“I am blessed to be there,” Gardner-Johnson said. “I cannot say too comfortable, because once you get comfortable, you don’t get better. I think every day is a learning process for me. I still left some plays on the field. There is still a lot of stuff out there that I can fix and clean up, but being out there and adjusting to a new position is amazing to go out there and compete with 10 other guys and 52 other guys who love to win. It is amazing to me right now.”

Gardner-Johnson is on pace to set several new career-highs this season including tackles, interceptions, and games started. His presence in the Eagles secondary has continued to blossom in front of his teammates eyes, something that all parties will hope continues through the second-half of the regular season.

Gardner-Johnson still knows there is still room to grow individually and as a team, and plans on doing everything he can to be the best version of himself on the field for the Eagles.

“I have played a lot of winning football, but this is just a learning curve.” Gardner-Johnson said. “Every step you have to get better. With it being the bye week, it is not a relaxation time. It is time to focus in on your body and focus on what you can do to fix yourself, so when you come back after the bye week, you do not leave it on the field. The best thing for us is to continue to get better on and off the field as a team, on and off the field as we are watching film, and finding the little things that we can fine-tune to make this run into the postseason.”

You can follow Larry Henry on Twitter (@lhenry019) and e-mail him at [email protected].

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