Eagles Wake-Up Call: Marcus On the Inside


Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Marcus Smith described the emotion tied to his professional debut as “probably the best feeling I ever felt.”

It took a couple games and came at a different position, surprisingly enough, but the rookie first-round pick got his first taste of NFL action during Sunday’s 37-34 win over Washington. He played 18 snaps per Pro Football Focus — most of them in passing situations — and did not appear in the stat line.

“I would say I was average. I didn’t make any plays,” said Smith, who rushed the passer six times and dropped into coverage nine times in the game.  “I did everything right, everything that I was supposed to do [assignment-wise], now it’s just about me getting some more snaps, going to make plays and making an impact for the defense.”

Where to from here?

For this week, Smith continues to train at inside linebacker. Mychal Kendricks was sidelined at practice Tuesday and could very well sit out Sunday’s game in San Francisco. Given how thin the Eagles are on the inside, Billy Davis figured it made sense to give Smith a shot.

“At first he’ll be a little more hesitant, but as he gets reps and we grow him, we’ll see if he has the skill set in there,” said Davis. “He really does add another dynamic of a pressure, of a blitzer in there from the inside linebacker position, especially in our nickel package.  So we’ll just continue to grow him and see where he is in there.  He’s still an outside backer to us.  We’ll move him back out there in a second, but right now there’s three guys playing out there.  We had some injuries inside, so we thought we’d take a look.”

Would Davis consider keeping Smith at inside linebacker permanently?

“We’re open to whoever makes the most plays at the positions, and if it grows into where he’s dominating in there and really looking good, then absolutely, and if not we’ll go back outside with him,” said Davis. “It’s a day‑to‑day, week-to-week experiment we have right now.”

Davis says that one of the most difficult parts of going outside-in is adjusting your eyes. Smith explained that he started off trying to get his keys from the running back, but is learning to read the interior offensive linemen to figure out what’s coming his way.

It’s very early in what Davis has himself termed an “experiment.” For Smith’s part, he sounds open to playing wherever he can be of help.

“This is let’s see if he can do it move.  Let’s see where he is.  It’ll help his understanding,” said Davis. “At the end of the day, if it doesn’t work out and he goes back outside, he’s going to have a broader understanding of the defense and all the calls because he would have seen it through two different positional eyes.  It does help you overall.  It will make him a better outside backer if we decide to say, ‘Hey, this experiment didn’t work, we’ll move you back outside.’  But right now after one week, he did a nice job.  It was about what we expected.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

The NFL has ruled that the Chris Baker hit on Nick Foles from Sunday was legal.

Jason Peters said that he would react the exact same way if he had to do it all over again.

Sheil breaks down the team’s defensive performance against Washington.

Cary Williams apologized to Nate Allen and the rest of his teammates Tuesday.

Matt Tobin runs with the first team offense Tuesday. The latest on the offensive line.

“Really impressed with the Eagles’ versatility on offense, particularly when the offensive line is in shambles.” The media reacts to the Eagles’ win. 

Kapadia gets us more familiar with the Niners.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio talked to MLive about Nick Foles‘ time in East Lansing:

“It was sort of unique we had Brian Hoyer, Nick Foles and Kirk Cousins all in the same room as quarterbacks being coached by Dave Warner back in 2007,’’ Dantonio said. “Nick was a big, strong-armed guy who was very successful in high school. (He was) about 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, even at that time, had a great arm, live arm.

Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio reflects on former Spartan quarterbacks Nick Foles and Kirk Cousins and their time in East Lansing

“Kirk Cousins came in, as I remember, had a great fall camp, and as most freshmen go (he) plateaued a little bit, leveled off, both of them did,’’ he said. “And then you had Brian Hoyer, he was obviously a fifth-year senior, much farther along in terms of the offense and things of that nature.’’

Zach Berman on David Molk‘s path to the Eagles.

When NFL games started last fall, Molk usually took a nap. He lived in his native suburban Chicago and helped the Lemont High School football team. He was only two years removed from being named the top center in college football at Michigan, but Molk had no NFL contract and figured he’d need to wait a full season to get a chance.

That came when he signed with the Eagles in January. He earned a roster spot during the summer, and he’s now in position to start the next six to eight weeks while Kelce recovers.

“This is why I’m here,” Molk said. “This is why I played in college. This is why I worked my entire life. This is the opportunity.”

COMING UP

Preparation for the Niners continues. We’ll speak to Chip Kelly at 10:45 before practice.