DeMeco Ryans wasn’t limping when he came to the podium Wednesday afternoon at the NovaCare Complex. That was the first good sign. The green tie he was sporting was the second one.
"I’m excited about it and I’m happy to be here," Ryans said. "I feel the passion here from the fans and the love in here from the city. I’m just excited to get started."
Ryans, acquired by the Eagles for a fourth-round pick, is coming off a torn Achilles tendon in 2010 and a down 2011 season — at least by his high standards. Still, the team’s new starting middle linebacker, according to head coach Andy Reid, claimed he was 100 percent and looked every bit the part of the monster in the middle the Eagles have been longing for.
“Let’s not put savior on it,” Ryans said. “I’m just trying to be myself.”
But the word pretty much sums up what many are expecting. The Eagles haven’t had a legitimate middle linebacker since Jeremiah Trotter left in 2006.
“I can sense that everyone has been looking for that middle linebacker, and I’m happy to be the guy that they chose to step in and be the middle linebacker of this defense. Like I said, it’s a perfect fit for me, and it’s what I like to do," Ryans said.
Ryans said he was surprised when he first heard he had been traded, but pinned it on Houston’s salary cap issues. The Texans also switched to a 3-4 defense last season which, coupled with the Achilles injury, led to the lowest statistical output of his career in a full 16-game schedule. The Eagles, of course, play a 4-3 defense.
“That’s the defense I’ve been playing since high school,” Ryans said. “I have been in the middle of that defense for a while in high school and in college. It’s back to what I do naturally.”