Eagles’ Reynolds Gets His Chance
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Leading up to Sunday's upset win in Foxborough Chip Kelly downplayed any potential lineup changes despite the Eagles' ugly three-game skid.
When the Birds hit the field against the Patriots, though, there was plenty of lineup tweaks highlighted by the shift away from DeMarco Murray in the backfield.
Whether that was a one-time thing due to matchups as Kelly hinted on Monday or a permanent shift will likely play out against the Buffalo Bills this coming weekend.
Lost in the controversy surrounding Murray's current status, however, was that Chip and the coaching staff made plenty of other changes with the intent of putting some Peter Laviolette trademarked jam back into this team.
Struggling receiver Miles Austin did not dress as Philadelphia gave Jonathan Krause a cursory look with the recent practice-squad promotee getting eight snaps behind the main corps of Jordan Matthews, Riley Cooper, Nelson Agholor and Josh Huff on the outside.Austin was then released on Monday.
The biggest surprise, however, came on the defensive side where safety Ed Reynolds replaced Chris Maragos as the main cog in the nickel. When Malcolm Jenkins went into the slot against Tom Brady and Co. it was Reynolds, one of the team's fifth round picks in 2014, who got the call.
A playmaker at Stanford and in the preseason, Reynolds spent his entire rookie season on the practice squad as well as the first 10 weeks of the 2015 campaign before being activated after the Eagles placed Jerome Couplin on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
He arrived in Foxborough with all of 3 snaps as a professional, all of them on Turkey Day in Detroit, and that number multiplied rapidly and ended at 79 against New England, which places a heavy emphasis on the passing game and spent most of the day with three receivers on the field.
And Reynolds held up relatively well, tallying four tackles and an assisting on another.
"Ed's one of those guys that continually you see progress out of him," Kelly said Monday. "He's a very smart player and just one of those guys that has earned playing time over the course of the season."
The bigger positive in regard to Reynolds' ascent to contributor was the fact it enabled Maragos, one of the best special teams players in the NFL, to focus on his strength, which came to the forefront when the veteran safety blocked a punt in the waning seconds in the second quarter, one which Najee Goode scooped up and returned for a TD to tie the game at 14.
"I think we are really happy with what Ed is doing right now." Kelly remarked. "Hopefully he'll continue to progress and get a little bit better and better out there."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen