Eagles' Bennie Logan attracting the right kind of attention
Nose tackle is often a thankless job, but third-year veteran is a big reason for defense's success.
FUNNY THING about Bennie Logan. For a guy who does so much grunt work along the defensive line, you'd think a rare quarterback sack would be the highlight of his day.
But no, he says. What's the challenge in tackling a guy who has no interest in absorbing contact in the first place?
"I like the more physical play," Logan said. "A quarterback is just going to sit there and go down. He's not going to do anything. I like someone who's going to give me a challenge, who's going to hit me, too."
Logan's position is nose tackle. He lines up in the middle of the formation, where his role often is to occupy as many offensive linemen as possible. It's usually a thankless job, but Logan's work allows teammates such as Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton and the linebackers to have more freedom.
Logan's sack of Drew Brees in Week 5 was only the third of his three-year career.
"He makes my job easier," Thornton said. "I can definitely rely on him to stop the run, and I can take a lot more chances on the outside, knowing that he's going to have my back."
Cox had three sacks, forced two fumbles and recovered one in that win over New Orleans to grab NFC defensive player of the week honors.
"When you look at Ced and Bennie Logan and Fletcher Cox, they do the dirty work for our defense," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "They do all the dirty work for our defense. They're the main reason why we're having a lot of success."
Outside of football, Logan, 25, is genteel enough to be mistaken for a pastor - not as a guy who enjoys butting heads with a 250-pound running back.
Each morning when the players hit the practice field at the NovaCare Complex, they walk past the media contingent covering the team. Occasionally, Logan will ask to borrow one of the photographers' cameras, the huge ones with the extended lenses, and try his hand at shooting pictures.
"He's seems like such a good dude," Daily News photographer David Maialetti said. "He's always trying to take pictures, but they're never in focus."
Unless the Eagles are in the Super Bowl, Logan will take part in Wing Bowl, because it's a free meal.
"He's funny," Cox said. "He likes to play and joke around in the locker room, but when it's time to get serious, he gets very serious . . . He shows up at practice every day ready to work."
Logan and Connor Barwin have been Eagles teammates for three seasons. Their lockers are 10 feet from each other at the NovaCare Complex. They are key cogs on the Eagles' improved defense, and they also like to get out and interact with the community.
"When you see him with younger people, he does a great job relating to them," Barwin said. "I don't know where all of that came from."
It comes from the tiny town of Coushatta, La., where Logan was raised by extended family after his mother died following a long illness while he was in fifth grade. He has seven siblings.
"Wow," Barwin said. "He's never mentioned that."
The other most notable athlete to come from Coushatta was Joe Adcock, a slugging first baseman for the Milwaukee Braves in the 1950s.
"It's a typical Southern town," Logan explained. "Everybody knows everybody. There's not many stoplights, not many stores."
Coushatta (population 2,000) is in northern Louisiana, about 45 miles south of Shreveport.
"The food back home is a lot better than in Philadelphia," he said seriously. "Besides family, that's one thing I miss. I miss the spices and the seasoning in home-cooked meals. There's no Cajun food up here. There's no seasoning in food. It's all bland. I have to do a lot of cooking myself if I want to get that kind of home-cooked meal."
In order to command double-teams, you have to warrant the respect of double-teams. Opposing offenses often go nowhere when Logan is generating pressure from up the middle.
The knock on Logan was that, at 6-2, 310 pounds, he was too small coming out of college. The Eagles nonetheless spent a third-round pick on Logan and signed him to a standard rookie contract.
"Size doesn't matter in this league," he said. "It's more about the heart that you have."
The average salary of his four-year deal ($758,108, according to Spotrac.com) has become a terrific bargain, but Logan's in line for a big raise either before or after his contract runs out following the 2016 season.
He has 32 tackles and is on pace to set a career high for the third consecutive season. Logan had 61 last year and 43 as a rookie.
"He definitely is somebody you want to have in the middle of your defense," Thornton said.
At LSU, Logan was so respected, he was given uniform No. 18 which is presented to a player based on integrity and character. Coaches and staff members vote to award it, not players.
Logan, Cox and Thornton had started every game on the defensive line for the Eagles since the middle of 2013 when Logan replaced Isaac Sopoaga (who was traded to New England for the fifth-round pick that eventually went to New Orleans for Darren Sproles).
Anyway, the three linemen had a run of 27 consecutive starts, which ended in Week 3 this season when Thornton broke a bone in his right hand.
The concern from the outside was for the drop-off the line would suffer with Brandon Bair replacing Thornton. Bair, 30, had never started an NFL game.
Logan, however, saw it differently. He worried about Thornton, his pal who had never missed a game since being promoted from the practice squad to start the 2012 season. In fact, it seems Logan stalked him.
"I had a couple of missed calls from him," Thornton said, "so he just showed up at my house. When you are injured, you can feel like you are helpless, like you are just not part of the team.
"He came over and was, like, 'We miss you out there. We need you to come back.' He was motivating me, and it meant a lot," Thornton said. "He's one of my closest brothers."