LeBlanc, Eagles Survive OBJ
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Typically the finest wines get better with age.
The Eagles had only 20 days to let Cre'Von LeBlanc breathe a little so it's good that the Florida Atlantic product is an NFL cornerback, not the priciest Sauvignon blanc at your favorite French place.
Desperate for help at cornerback after losing Ronald Darby for the year with a torn ACL and waiting on Jalen Mills (foot), Sidney Jones (hamstring), Avonte Maddox (knee) and Rasul Douglas (knee, ankle) to fight through their injuries, the Eagles were forced to rely on a trio of largely unproven options against the New York Giants on Sunday, Chandon Sullivan, De'Vante Bausby and LeBlanc, the newest kid on campus after being picked up on waivers from Detroit earlier this month.
The Eagles started Sunday with Sullivan and Bausby on the outside and LeBlanc playing the slot but after the former was forced to leave with injury, LeBlanc had to move to the outside so he ultimately saw plenty of action in a 25-22 comeback win.
The box score says LeBlanc finished with one tackle but he also made one of the game's signature plays when lined up against Odell Beckham Jr. late in the game.
Down 22-19 and facing a 3rd-and-4 from the Philadelphia 11-yard-line, most knew what was coming.
“I think everybody in the stadium knew where that ball was going,” Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins surmised.
Sure enough Eli Manning took his shot and went to OBJ in the end zone but LeBlanc was up to the test and draped all over the All-Pro, forcing the Giants to settle for a field goal that deadlocked things and set the stage for the Eagles' own game-winning drive.
Perhaps a little home cooking contributed to the result of the play as LeBlanc certainly could have been called for holding in what is an overlegislated league but the whistles were silent in the big spot, instead allowing the players decide the outcome.
One thing is certain, though. The stage wasn't too big for LeBlanc.
Although he isn't that well known in Philadelphia yet LeBlanc did have 32 NFL games under his belt coming in. Overall, LeBlanc allowed just two receptions for 48 yards on the four targets that came his way, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
"Everybody knows what type of receiver [OBJ] is," LeBlanc said. "... I know what type of player I am. I fear no one. I fear no man. At the end of the day, he put his pants on, I put my pants on and we gonna play ball."
Because of LeBlanc and the others young players in the much-maligned secondary, the Eagles will get to play meaningful ball for at least another week.
“They hung tough. They battled,” Doug Pederson said of his young defensive backs. “Nothing is easy. Nothing is pretty. You just have to fight and scratch and get the job done. They did that. Proud of those guys.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen