Options At Safety If Birds Short-Handed Vs. Commanders
The Eagles are experiencing a safety shortage ahead of Sunday’s home game against the Washington Commanders.
Relatively lean at the position to start the season, the Eagles listed veteran Justin Evans (neck) and third-round rookie Sydney Brown (hamstring) as out of Thursday’s practice, setting the stage for a suspenseful practice status reveal Friday.
Evans, whose 141 defensive snaps are third-most on the defense, has come into his own after an unremarkable season opener while Brown flashed before exiting with injury after just 12 snaps in Monday night’s 25-11 win over the Buccaneers.
Having one or both available Sunday at the Linc is vital in terms of optionality and playmaking ability.
While the positional landscape will become clearer Friday, the razor-thin numbers warranted a closer look at some potential in-house contingency plans who could supplement presumed starters Reed Blankenship and Terrell Edmunds and get Eagles through the game if short-handed.
Perhaps the most logical option, the rookie Ringo would likely be first in the pecking order to supplement an undermanned safety group. Three games in – sans for one snap against the Vikings – Ringo, a fourth-round pick, has primarily served as a special teams mainstay, logging the third-most third-phase snaps (53). But his cameo might parlay into something more prominent if Evans or Brown were to miss Sunday’s game.
While a move such as this might seem unconventional to some, Ringo’s traits always suggested backend versatility. Sporting a frame comparable to Malcolm Jenkins, Ringo boasts the range, athleticism and long speed to provide quality snaps at the safety position, and his physicality and willingness in run support was evident for those assessing his body of work throughout the pre-draft process.
Sure, Ringo hasn’t been able to see the field at cornerback – his natural position – but perhaps a different perspective and broader scope of the defense will allow Ringo, 20, to play more freely as he gets his feet wet on defense.
While practice squad players often mire in obscurity – out of sight, out of mind – McCollum was promptly retained amid the aftermath of cutdown day and has remained a member of the 16-man unit in spite of the constant personnel churning. McCollum, twin brother of Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Zyon McCollum, made the most of his preseason opportunities, which included 81 defensive snaps and 57 on special teams.
Sporting a 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame, McCollum – who wasn’t even invited to the NFL Scouting Combine – might not possess prototypical size for the position but offers plenty of length and range to complement his high-level football intellect. His promotion to the gameday roster would be a tad premature from a development standpoint – and I wouldn’t envision him factoring into the defensive equation Sunday – but McCollum could serve as a crucial special teams piece should the team opt to lighten the workload of Ringo and others for preservation.
A surprise scratch against Tampa Bay, Goodrich’s versatility could potentially warrant an activation against the Commanders. Goodrich, an outside cornerback by trade, primarily cross-trained at slot cornerback in training camp, but also moonlighted some at safety in practice as well last season.
The second-year cornerback provides length, instincts, and plays a physical brand of football. Like Ringo, Goodrich possesses specific qualities unique to safety, making him an invaluable young backend piece. The Eagles will presumably need all hands on deck Sunday in the secondary given the way things are trending, and Goodrich could be called upon.
– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.