Young players Reynolds and Rowe Step Up for Eagles
When asked if he was surprised that Eric Rowe and Ed Reynolds were key contributors to the Eagles 23-20 win over the Bills on Sunday, Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, displayed confidence in his two young players.
"Surprised? Not at all," Kelly stated.
"I have very great confidence in those guys. Just get an opportunity to get them on the field. I think Eric not being in there before had nothing to do with Eric, it was we thought that Nolan [CB Nolan Carroll] was playing really well. Nolan had an outstanding off-season for us, really competed hard and earned that starting corner position. Same thing is true with Ed. We had a very difficult decision because you're limited in the number of guys you can have, but we always felt he could play safety for us."
Rowe, a rookie second round pick who saw very little playing time until Nolan Carroll went down with a season ending injury on Thanksgiving day, finished Sunday's game with four tackles and one pass defended, and was able to help hold Bills standout Sammy Watkins in check with five catches, 81 yards and a touchdown.
“Yeah, when I was manned up against [Bills WR Sammy Watkins], I felt like I did a pretty decent job not letting him get over my head," Rowe said after the win. "I mean, he did catch a couple of comebacks, but that is not going to lose us the game. It did build my confidence going into next week.”
As for Reynolds, it was his interception at the end of the game that sealed the deal for the Eagles second straight win.
"He was a deep safety and they tried to go over the top and he has got to give the corner support on that and just made a great play," Kelly explained.
"In that situation, we go over that same scenario every week," Reynolds admitted. "When we call bingo, all we have to do is get the ball, get down, get the offense the ball, and we win the game. It’s all about putting yourself in those positions more than once, and we do that, so it was great.”
Reynolds got his chance to play, after spending all of last year on the Eagles practice squad, when they placed Jerome Couplin on injured reserve. One thing Kelly noticed about Reynolds was that he didn't allow the time on the practice squad to get him down, he just kept getting better.
"The one thing about Ed is he has really taken advantage of his time on the practice squad to continue to develop and we saw that growth in him," stated Kelly. "He used that as an, ‘I can continue to grow and I can continue to get better,’ and we saw it out here on a daily basis."
Reynolds replaced Chris Maragos as the safety in the nickel packages, allowing Maragos to focus on special teams play.
Reynolds said he knew Buffalo wouldn't be running the ball, so he needed to be in the right position with proper technique. With that said, he was in the right play at the right time.
“It’s always about preparation throughout the week and making sure you put yourself in that position multiple times before you actually get there," Reynolds said.
He credited the Eagles "older players" for quickly getting him up to speed and comfortable.
"It’s great being around these guys in our defensive backfield," Reynolds said. "We’ve got some older guys who have been there and done that and have won Super Bowls. I just try to take from them all that I can and go out and make the plays that come my way.”