L.J. Fort is used to moving around. He lived on Army bases as a kid. He has spent time with seven NFL organizations. He splits his playing time between defense and special teams.
Mother Nature might have rained on everybody else’s parade Thursday night, but for Fort, it was an evening well spent.
“I really needed the work coming to a new defensive scheme,” said Fort, who played inside linebacker for three quarters of the truncated game. “Tonight, I finally felt comfortable with the defense.”
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Fort had two tackles for loss, including a play in which he shed a lineman and dropped Baltimore’s Justice Hill. Fort also nearly corralled scrambling Ravens quarterback Trace McSorley at the goal line, but the referees ruled the speedy QB had scored. A replay review was unable to reverse the call.
“There’s not a chance he scored,” Fort said. “I guess there wasn’t a very good angle where you could see where the ball was when his knee was down. He wasn’t in.”
Fort is in his first season with the Eagles after spending the last four years in Pittsburgh. He led the Steelers in plays on special teams in 2018 and also saw the most action of his career on defense.
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Starting linebackers Nigel Bradham (torn toe ligaments) and Kamu Grugier-Hill (knee sprain) might not be ready for the Sept. 8 opener against Washington, which would leave a spot for Fort, who started two games on defense for the Steelers in December.
“I was a lot better [Thursday night] than the first couple of games from a mental aspect,” he said. “I’m a lot more comfortable with the defense and am able to play faster.”
McSorley, the Ravens rookie and former Penn State star, had his best game of the preseason with a pair of touchdown passes and the grinding touchdown run mentioned above.
Like the Eagles with Carson Wentz, Baltimore held starting quarterback Lamar Jackson out of action and went with McSorley, who needed the extra work.
The rookie’s day wasn’t without a little anxiety, however.
“I got a call from Coach Harbaugh and from Coach Urban,” McSorley said. “I wasn’t at my phone and I got two missed calls from them and I was like, ‘Uh oh. What’s going on?’ "
Head coach John Harbaugh and quarterbacks coach James Urban were calling McSorley just to let him know he was starting Thursday night.
But when you are a sixth-round pick with 89 other guys fighting for 53 spots, anything in August can make you jumpy.