Tre Sullivan has to hit to make the Eagles, but he doesn't want to injure

Eagles Packers Football
Green Bay’s Malachi Dupre loses the ball as he is hit by Eagles safety Tre Sullivan on Thursday night.

Tre Sullivan is in Eagles training camp as an undrafted rookie safety because he was a fierce hitter at 4,000-student Division II Shepherd University. So when Sullivan got a chance to blast Green Bay rookie receiver Malachi Dupre Thursday night, as Dupre churned upfield with a screen pass, that was what Sullivan did.

“It was never my intention for the play to kind of happen how it did,” Sullivan, who stands 6 feet and 200 pounds, said Saturday. “Not to injure him, at all. I just look at myself as a physical player. That’s how I play. Of course, every play, when I want to make a tackle, I want to make a statement.

“I definitely prayed for him, felt sorry for him, was concerned. As you could see, I didn’t celebrate after the play because I could see he was down. It stuck with me, and then when I saw that he was tweeting [from the hospital] that he was fine and stuff, it helped me feel better, kind of at ease.”

The Packers said they sent Sullivan’s hit and a Bryce Treggs block on Damarius Randall to the NFL. Dupre left the field on a stretcher and was hospitalized overnight. Randall suffered a concussion.

“Obviously, player safety is at the forefront of [making the league better], and when you see things like those two hits last night, they’re definitely of concern in the area of player safety,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy told reporters Friday. “I don’t think they’re legal hits.”

In Sullivan’s case, the Packers argue that rules tightened this offseason on hitting defenseless players should make the hit illegal. At high speed, Sullivan drove the top of his helmet into Dupre’s shoulder and chest, whiplashing Dupre to the turf.

Treggs blindsided Daniels near the end of a run play, in what could be called a crackback block, though Daniels was running toward Treggs at the time, Daniels just was looking elsewhere, at the ballcarrier.

Treggs took Saturday’s practice off with leg soreness, the Eagles said, and he could not be reached for comment. Neither his nor Sullivan’s hit drew a penalty flag.

“They came out quick, and our corner was playing off,” Sullivan said. “Green Bay, when you’re playing off, they’ll just check it and just throw the ball [quickly] to the receiver, and that’s what happened. He was a runner [by the time he got near Sullivan]. He went to stiff-arm the corner and made an inside move, and I was just filling the alley, kind of how we’re taught to. I just kind of lined it up and made the play. … It wasn’t helmet-to-helmet contact. I tried my best to keep my head out of it.”

Later in Thursday’s game, Sullivan blasted a receiver along the sideline just after the ball flew past, drawing boos at Lambeau Field but again no flag.

“Some people were saying that it was good timing,. Some people were saying that it was a little late,” Sullivan said. “I probably should have had more eyes on the ball, to see where the ball was. I was just kind of in the mode, like, ‘I can’t let him make this play. I can’t let him catch the ball.’ That’s kind of up to the refs. There were no flags down.”

Not so special

The Eagles’ proud, much renowned special teams units suffered the embarrassment of a 68-yard Packers punt return touchdown by wideout Trevor Davis in the preseason opener, a play that began with gunner Ron Brooks seemingly lining up Davis then pulling a hamstring and missing him entirely.

Chris Maragos said Saturday that the touchdown was a “good reminder,” a bulwark against complacency, that will bring “a different sense of urgency” to the group.

Brooks said covering punts in practice isn’t like the real thing, that he pushed himself a bit too hard getting downfield but isn’t seriously hurt.

Birdseed

The Eagles added undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver Keevan Lucas, with Jordan Matthews gone to Buffalo, releasing linebacker Steven Daniels for the second time. … Daniels forced a Donnel Pumphrey fumble in Saturday’s practice. Ball security was a problem for Pumphrey in the preseason opener as he muffed a punt but fell on the loose ball. “We have to continue to work, work through that. Today was a very humid day. The guys were sweating a bunch,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “You could probably attribute it to that. I don’t want to make excuses for guys. … Just got to make a point of emphasis with him.” … Pederson said of tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee), “We’re expecting maybe a couple days, get back out here and practice.” Pederson said backup QB Nick Foles (elbow) was scheduled to do some throwing Saturday afternoon. “We’ll see where he’s at here in the next couple of days,” Pederson said.