DeMeco Ryans has blended into the Lehigh landscape so far. There is no denying the instant ripple effect that his leadership qualities have had on the linebacker unit, but his own play hasn’t jumped off the page during the live sessions. The dominance fans are thirsting for might be just around the bend.
“DeMeco is playing faster now than when he started out and that’s only because he’s more comfortable,” said Andy Reid. “And he’ll become even faster after more reps.”
Reid added that most of the install is in for the defensive side of the ball. It’s a matter of having it become second nature.
“I’m still working on ironing out some details of the defense, but I feel good about where we are now and look to keep raising the level higher and higher…We’re working to be the best so we have to continue working on our craft,” said Ryans.
The seven-year vet is running both as the starting middle linebacker and in the nickel, proving that the Eagles are looking to make him a three-down player.
Backing him up at the MIKE is Casey Matthews, who this time last year was thrown into the middle and basically asked to swim with an anchor attached to his ankle. Now he is in more of an apprentice.
“It definitely helps,” said Matthews of having Ryans to lean on. “He’s established in this league and he has that leadership role that we didn’t really have last year. It’s great to learn from him. Any little thing he has that he can give you, you listen to it. He’s been to two Pro Bowls. That’s something we didn’t have last year and we learned the hard way.”
Matthews has been told to be versed in all three positions but has been focused mainly on the middle.
“Casey’s a good guy, good friend, and things are going well for him out in practice. He’s making some plays,” said Ryans. “We’re working together on some things, always talking, making sure he understands what’s going on. It all fits together because we’re both trying to work to make this thing right.”
The starting unit right now is Ryans at the middle with Mychal Kendricks on the strong side and Brian Rolle at the weakside. The second unit has Matthews flanked by Jamar Chaney (WILL) and Akeem Jordan (SAM). In nickel, Ryans and Rolle man the first unit, and the second team features Kendricks and Chaney.