By Michael Donovan
Take it from Eagles’ D-boss Jim Schwartz about defensive end Steven Means:
“Pun intended, he ‘means‘ business,” Schwartz said after a practice earlier in training camp. “He comes to work. He’s physical. He fits the scheme. He’s tall. He’s got long arms. He can build some power with speed. You might want to ask the tight ends about him because he’s been giving those guys some tough situations to handle.”
Doug Pederson has been impressed with Means’ play throughout training camp. Pederson raved about Means’ daily work ethic.
“I tell you what, he’s a kid that, gosh – I think he’s improved every single day,” Pederson said. “He’s a hard worker; comes to practice every day ready to work. He’s had a great camp. He finished tonight well.
Means has dominated offensive linemen throughout the preseason. He has registered three sacks in the preseason but has multiple quarterback pressures.
Primarily working at right defensive end, Means has been able to get a very quick jump on the ball and attack tackles instantly off the snap.
Having grown up in Buffalo, it is only natural for Means to have Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame defensive end, Bruce Smith as a player that he patterned his game after. Like Smith, Means is a specialist when it comes to exploding off the edge.
At 6-3, 263-pounds Means can not overpower bigger tackles on every play so he has to rely on his speed to create power. The jump that he gets at the snap causes the tackles to rush to get back into their stance.
They try to brace themselves for the outside rush and that is when Means crosses them up, making a move back inside to cause them to get caught off balance. As a result, Means can convert speed to power.
Means is not only a force as a pass rusher. He is also a very aggressive edge setter, often forcing runs back inside to the waiting defensive tackles or linebackers.
After spending his past two seasons bouncing from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans, Means has found a home in Philly.
“The hunger has been building up for a while,” Means said. “I am blessed to be out there. I thank God, he shined his light through me. God took over this year for me.
“I begged and pleaded with him. I can’t explain it, to be honest. I have no worries; I leave it all in God’s hands. My faith is so my are . I can look in the mirror and smile to myself and say I left it all out there.”
The third-year player has benefited from going against perennial Pro Bowl tackle Jason Peters in practice. It was Peters who gave Means his welcome to the NFL moment as a rookie with the Buccaneers in 2013.
“I just remember this one play where Jason literally lifted me up in the air and slammed me to the ground,” Means said. “It didn’t stop there. He rested his hands on my chest and made sure that my back remained on the grass until the play was over. I was in total shock at the time and just kept thinking that you have to come ready to play on every single down at this level.”