With Fate in Balance, Elijah Qualls Waits It Out With Storm the Husky

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - As Elijah Qualls waits for that very important phone call this weekend, the Eagles defensive tackle will be hanging with his Huskies and his husky. 

Qualls is heading to Piscataway on Friday night to watch his Washington Huskies take on Rutgers at High Point Solutions Stadium. Then the rest of his weekend will be much more relaxed. He plans on waiting for the call while watching Netflix with his 3-year-old dog Storm. 

"That's my baby," Qualls said. 

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Growing up, Qualls always wanted to get a husky but it got a little too warm in California where he lived. But when he went to Washington, that's when he got her. The two of them came east, although Storm later, when Qualls was taken in the sixth round this spring. 

Now, as Saturday's 4 p.m. cut down deadline approaches, Qualls is hoping they don't have to move again. 

"It is (a little nerve-wracking) but I'm going to try not to think about it," he said. "I've done all I can, I've played as hard as I could. I tried to perfect the technique as much as I could, understand the scheme. I feel like I don't really have any regrets. I feel like I did everything I could. The rest is up to them. I can't really control anything at this point."

Qualls had another good game on Thursday night in the Eagles' preseason finale. With most of the established guys out of the way, he played 46 snaps and had five tackles, a half sack and a tackle for loss. He was downright disruptive. 

That might be a little surprising given the last several months. Qualls was forced to miss all of OTAs because of the antiquated NCAA graduation rule for schools on quarters systems. And then, early on during training camp, Qualls tweaked his groin, which led to a bizarre scene where position coach Chris Wilson berated him while Qualls was still on the ground in pain. 

But Qualls caught up from missing the OTAs by hitting his playbook hard. And he didn't mind the daily tongue-lashings from Wilson. He knew that meant he cared. And missing time with the groin injury? Well, that just allowed him to take a step back and learn while watching practice. In hindsight, he actually thinks the injury helped him. 

"Honestly, my whole life has been adversity," Qualls said. "It's just something I've expected at this point. I always expect something to come up. If everything's right, then something's about to go wrong. You gotta prepare yourself for that. You have to prepare yourself to grind through something, whether it's an injury, whether it's something in life, some kind of complications or difficulty. I kind of expect those things to happen, but it is what it is. I've been put in pressure my whole life and it's done pretty well for me so far. I don't mind it at all actually." 

Coming from Washington's two-gapping defense, Jim Schwartz's aggressive front has taken some getting used to, but Qualls loves it. He thinks it's the best possible defense for a lineman who wants to make plays. 

"If I had my choice, I'd play this defense my entire career," he said. 

Unfortunately for Qualls, it's out of his hands. His future will be decided by the decision-makers. All Qualls can do is wait with Storm, two Huskies eager to learn their fate. 

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