After a sluggish preseason, doubts started to creep in about the overall worth of DeMeco Ryans.
The new middle linebacker was brought in to clog the middle and lead the Eagles' defense. Then, three days before the opener, his role was reduced in practice. Ryans was taken out of the nickel package. Last Sunday, Ryans proved the preseason might be meaningless after all. He played all three downs in Cleveland, on the field for 60 of 62 defensive snaps.
"I'll tell you that he did a good job and played well," coach Andy Reid said of Ryans. "DeMeco was really a two-down player in the last year or so for the Texans. I thought that he could be a three-down player."
Ryans was in the middle of everything, too -- none more crucial than a text-book stop on a crucial 3rd-and-1 play. After the game, he was quick to defer praise.
"We did a good job, but it's not just linebackers, its everybody ... it's defensive line, they put pressure on the guys, getting off blocks, stopping the run," Ryans said. "It takes us all, we don't separate our group, it's not just linebackers, we're all together."