Blocked FG puts Ea­gles’ Hester on the map

Centre Daily Times - - Sports - BY ROB MAADDI

PHILADEL­PHIA

Treyvon Hester’s fin­ger­tips made the se­cond-year pro a pop­u­lar guy in Philadel­phia.

The Ea­gles (10-7) are head­ing to New Or­leans (13-3) for a di­vi­sional play­off game Sun­day be­cause Hester barely tipped Cody Parkey’s 43-yard field-goal at­tempt just enough to send the ball bounc­ing off the up­right and cross­bar, securing a 16-15 win at Chicago in the wild-card round.

“It’s crazy. My so­cial me­dia (fol­low­ing) tripled,” Hester said Fri­day.

The 6-foot-2, 304-pound de­fen­sive tackle didn’t even see where the ball went after he touched it.

“I felt I didn’t get enough of it be­cause when I looked back, it looked like it was on the right path,” Hester said. “I turned back and it bounced off and the rest was history. I didn’t see it bounce off be­cause I was so frus­trated. I heard the re­ac­tion of the crowd and saw the team run­ning out there. It was a sur­prise. I couldn’t be­lieve it hap­pened.”

Hester be­gan the sea­son on Philadel­phia’s prac­tice squad after Oak­land re­leased him at the end of train­ing camp. He was a seventh-round pick by the Raiders out of Toledo in 2017 and ap­peared in 14 games as a rookie.

The Ea­gles pro­moted him to the ac­tive ros­ter in Oc­to­ber and he worked him­self into be­com­ing a part of the de­fen­sive line ro­ta­tion. Hester has played any­where be­tween 16 and 58 per­cent of the snaps in 12 games. He got his first NFL sack on De­shaun Wat­son in Week 16 and

was on the field for 12 snaps against the Bears.

“Treyvon has come up big for us,” de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Jim Schwartz said. “He got his hand up and did what he was sup­posed to do at the right time and we were able to get the win.”

Hester is sur­rounded by tal­ented, ex­pe­ri­enced guys on the de­fen­sive line, in­clud­ing All-Pro Fletcher Cox, Bran­don Gra­ham, Chris Long, Tim Jerni­gan and Haloti Ngata.

“I’m try­ing to make a name for my­self but I got a lot of vets out here help­ing me out, help­ing me im­prove my game, so I’m grate­ful,” he said. “With­out Haloti Ngata, I wouldn’t have been able to get the push that I got be­cause we both get down there and try to get the guy in front of us out of the way, so credit to him.”

Hester said it was the first time he blocked a field goal in his ca­reer and it was the first one in the post­sea­son in fran­chise history.

“First of many,” Hester said. “It’s def­i­nitely a big con­fi­dence booster and I would like to con­tinue to make more plays and help this team win any way I can.”

Hester has found his role on the Ea­gles, giv­ing the de­fend­ing Su­per Bowl cham­pi­ons an op­por­tu­nity to con­tinue their quest for a re­peat.

“It’s ful­fill­ing,” Hester said.

“Philadel­phia proved me right, al­lowed me to show what I can do. I owe them ev­ery­thing.”

MARK TENALLY AP

“It’s crazy. My so­cial me­dia (fol­low­ing) tripled,” Ea­gles de­fen­sive tackle Treyvon Hester said.

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