PHILADELPHIA — Defensive end Joe Ostman is the Eagles’ version of impersonator Frank Caliendo.
As a member of the team’s practice squad, the rookie is responsible for mimicking the pass rush moves of opposing defensive linemen for Eagles tackles Lane Johnson and Jason Peters and other members of the offensive line.
This week, he sported a red jersey with the No. 94. That’s the jersey number of New Orleans defensive end Cameron Jordan, who will try to get to Eagles quarterback Nick Foles in Sunday’s divisional-round playoff game.
Jordan leads the Saints with 12 sacks.
“He doesn’t really have a go-to move,” Ostman said. “He’s pretty well-rounded. He has speed and power, so I’ve tried a bunch of different moves (in practices) to help get (Johnson and Peters) ready. My role is to do whatever I can to help us get a win.”
Ostman has played that role very well this season, especially in recent weeks.
Over the course of the last six games, the Eagles have faced some of the NFL’s elite pass rushers in Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan (twice), Dallas’ DeMarcus Lawrence, the Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald, Houston’s J.J. Watt and Chicago’s Khalil Mack. Those players combined for 62½ sacks in the regular season. Donald led the league with 20½ sacks. Watt was second with 16.
Against the Eagles, they combined for one, a sack by Kerrigan, in Philadelphia’s 24-0 victory at Washington on Dec. 28.
Ostman received a lot of credit for helping the offensive line prepare.
“Joe is the hardest worker we’ve got here, no question,” Johnson said. “That guy gives more effort than anyone on the team.”
Ostman, 6-foot-3 and 259 pounds, knows a little bit about pass rushing. He got 26 career sacks at Central Michigan University to go 45 tackles for loss. He had 13 sacks as a senior in 2017, which ranked second in the country behind Northern Illinois’ Sutton Smith (14).
His tireless work ethic was developed in the family bakery, Mackinaw Bakery in Mackinaw City, Michigan.
“It’s been in the family for 70 years, starting with my great-grandpa and continuing with my grandpa and now my dad,” Ostman said. “I started working there when I was 6, and until I got (to the NFL) it was the only job I ever had. Over the years, I learned to do everything, whatever was needed. I can fry, bake and roll the dough.”
He’s taken the same approach to football.
As a member of the scout team, he’s been known to take reps on offense and defense during the course of a practice. His primary job, however, is to mimic those pass rushers. He spends hours studying tapes of defensive ends to learn their moves, then applies them on the practice field.
“DeMarcus Lawrence likes to use a cross-chop move,” Ostman said. “Khalil Mack has a spin move. Aaron Donald is just relentless. J.J. Watt is pretty versatile. Learning all those moves has helped me, too. This isn’t about me, but I feel like I’m getting better as a pass rusher. Whenever my opportunity comes (to get promoted to the active roster), I’ll be ready.”
There was a chance at a promotion earlier this season, when defensive end Derek Barnett was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury Oct. 25. But the Eagles chose to sign defensive end Daeshon Hall off Houston’s practice squad.
That hasn’t affected Ostman’s approach to practices, however.
“Joe has busted his tail all season long,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. “He embraces the number or jersey we put on him.”
Ostman will get a chance to see his handiwork Sunday. He usually watches road games in his apartment down the street from the NovaCare Complex, but the Eagles are taking their 10-player practice squad with them to New Orleans.
After the season, he hopes to put on some weight in time for training camp.
A few visits to the family bakery might help.
“We’re known for our big cinnamon rolls,” he said. “But I like the cream-filled long johns.”
Note: Quarterback Carson Wentz (back) was the only player ruled out for Sunday’s game on Friday. Defensive end Michael Bennett (foot), cornerback Sidney Jones (hamstring) and Peters (quadriceps) were among the players listed as questionable.