PHILADELPHIA – The Eagles acquired Kevin Byard from Tennessee on Monday and if you’re a betting man, put the mortgage payment down on the West Philadelphia native hitting the ground running next to fellow Middle Tennessee State product Reed Blankenship on the back end of Philadelphia’s sixth-ranked defense against Washington on Sunday.
The ramp-up time for a two-time All-Pro known for his football IQ was always going to be a short period and the 6-1 Eagles seem confident that Byard will be ready to play extensively against the Commanders.
“Every walk-through, every practice, everything is being evaluated, so we feel good where he is,” coach Nick Sirianni said when asked about Byard’s ramp-up time by JAKIB Sports.
Siranni takes his competitive-advantage sentiment very seriously, however, so he wasn’t about to get the bullhorn out to inform Ron Rivera that Byard is immediately stepping in but a host of team sources admitted that’s the plan.
“I won’t give away any information of how much he’s going to play or anything like that. I just think that’s not — I don’t want to tell the Commanders anything, right?” Sirianni said. “But we feel like he’s had a great week of practice.”
Byard himself expressed the thought that he would play quite a bit and rookie safety Sydney Brown noted he was spending more time on slot work this week after starting his first NFL game at safety against Miami on last Sunday night.
The shuffling of Brown not only has to do with Byard’s arrival but also Blankenship’s impending return from a rib injury.
The Eagles’ have started four different safeties this season: Blankenship, Justin Evans, Terrell Edmunds, who was dealt to the Titans in the Byard deal, and Brown.
Moving forward the plan is Byard and Blankenship in the first-ever all-MTSU safety tandem. Blankenship replaced Byard as the leader of the back end in Murfreesboro.
“Everything is considered,” Sirianni said in regard to throwing Byard right into the fray. “… He’s been playing so it’s different than [WR] Julio [Jones] as far as the pitch count, as far as health-wise goes. But man, he’s a pro, and he’s worked hard this week, so we’re confident in him.”