Eagles Wake-Up Call: Reynolds Rewarded
Ed Reynolds knew what he was supposed to do. He’d practiced it all week long.
It’s called a “Bingo” situation, something that comes up when a team can get the ball back, with so many timeouts and so much time left, that the game will be over.
When he caught an errant Tyrod Taylor pass deep near the Eagles’ sideline in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 23-20 win over the Bills, it was a “Bingo” situation.
One minute, 16 seconds to play. No timeouts left in Rex Ryan’s pocket. With a turnover, the Eagles would win the game.
Of course, it’s one thing to catch a ball and give yourself up in a relatively lax practice setting. When a stadium full of fans is yelling; when your adrenaline is pumping; when the field in front of you looks like six points just waiting to be scored, it’s a little harder.
“I knew what I was supposed to do, but when I got the ball, I was looking to make a play,” Reynolds said Wednesday, smiling but looking a little embarrassed. “I looked up field and took a few steps, but then when I looked at the sideline, everyone was pointing, ‘Down, down.’” He laughed.
Reynolds has seen the picture of Chip Kelly and Cory Undlin pointing to the ground, maniacally. It was plastered on the front of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s sports section the next day, and retweeted ad nauseam.
He heard from a lot of friends after he came off the field.
“The little bubble next to the message app? Yeah, 105,” Reynolds said, grinning. He had never seen so many text messages at one time.
All of this from a man who, less than a month ago, was just a member of the practice squad, and a little over three months ago was floating in NFL limbo.
A fifth-round draft pick of the Eagles in 2014, he spent his entire rookie season on the team’s practice squad, and was unable to make the cut for the 53-man roster in his second year despite an impressive preseason.
His agent was contacted by a number of teams interested in adding Reynolds to their respective practice squads, but he decided to wait it out. When the Eagles waived him, they told him that they would love to have him back in the organization if he cleared waivers.
It seemed like the best fit, and three months later, it appears he’s proven himself right.
“I felt like I had put a year in, they know me here, I was drafted here, I know the defense here,” Reynolds said. “So just continue to grow as a player here, and build on what I did in preseason, and hopefully have a shot.”
Reynolds says he’s living proof that when Kelly and his assistant coaches talk about players having excellent weeks of practice, they’re not just blowing smoke.
“It’s like putting money in the bank. We do put a lot of emphasis on, ‘What are you doing during the practice week?’ If you’re out there making plays, the coaches take notice, and I think that’s what really put me in this position,” Reynolds said.
He had a solid preseason and felt like he improved with each coming week of practice, and apparently his coaches did as well.
With a preseason injury to rookie cornerback JaCorey Shepherd and a midseason injury to corner Nolan Carroll, Reynolds was pressed into action ahead of Chris Maragos, who had been working at safety in nickel packages earlier this year.
Now, it’s just about making his playing time stick.
“It’s crazy, but it’s one of those things where, I didn’t know how many plays I was going to play against New England. I had no idea. Even Detroit. You just practice all week, you see the game plan, and you see the way the game goes. That’s just what happened,” Reynolds said.
“For me, it was more so just, ‘Don’t be overwhelmed by the snaps.’ Take every snap one snap at a time.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
“I could barely walk yesterday.” Byron Maxwell gives an update on his status for Sunday.
Bruce Arians was supposed to interview for the Eagles’ head coach job in 2013. They cancelled.
“He has brought the Eagles back from the abyss.” What they’re saying about the Eagles.
Josh takes an up-close look at the growth of Sam Bradford over the last handful of games.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Larry Fitzgerald, though aging, presents a big problem for the Eagles’ secondary, writes the Inquirer’s Zach Berman.
Eagles fans don’t need to be reminded of Fitzgerald’s ability. In seven career games against the Eagles, Fitzgerald has 47 catches for 802 yards and 11 touchdowns. He helped eliminate the Eagles from the playoffs in 2009 with a three-touchdown performance. He has reached the end zone in every game against the Eagles.
[Billy] Davis does not need to be reminded of Fitzgerald’s ability, either. A former Cardinals assistant, Davis saw what Fitzgerald could do up close. At 32 and with a skill set that has evolved during his career, Fitzgerald is not surprising Davis this season in the slot.
“To watch him work in practice is really what all NFL players should do at practice,” Davis said. “So when you ask him to go in [the slot] or block more, it doesn’t surprise me that Larry has succeeded in there. He’s a big, strong guy. The strength of Larry is he’s got the strongest hands at the point of the catch that I’ve been around. He goes and gets it, and that’s a big bonus when you’re in the slot. When you have all the lower routes that you have to catch, you’re usually in traffic.”
Sam Bradford side-stepped contract talk at his press conference Wednesday, despite Kelly’s backing, writes Dave Zangaro of CSN Philadelphia.
“We’ve always wanted Sam here,” Kelly said Monday. “We wouldn’t have traded for him if we thought he was going to be here for a year.”
Does that mean anything to Bradford?
“Obviously, it’s great to hear those things, but I don’t really think that means a whole lot and that’s not going to change the way I approach things,” he said Wednesday. “I’m sure I’ll pay more attention to that stuff in the offseason.”
Bradford, as he has all season, declined to discuss his impending free agency. The quarterback, whom the Eagles traded for this offseason, is in the final year of his current deal, which pays him a base salary of nearly $13 million in 2015.
Kelly will address the media at 11:45.