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Young Eagles Provide Instant Impact

Posted Dec 15, 2012

The Eagles have received significant contributions from nearly every member of their most recent draft class. In Week 15’s game against the Bengals, the Eagles started five rookies. With two games to go, we look at how the Eagles’ young players have done this season:

DT Fletcher Cox: Hailed by many as the best defensive lineman in the 2012 draft, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox made an impact for the Eagles from day one. In the Eagles’ regular season debut against the Browns, Cox registered his first sack and notched five tackles. Cox eventually worked his way into the starting lineup, becoming one of the Eagles’ best linemen. The Mississippi State product leads all Eagles defensive linemen with 62 total tackles and 5.5 sacks.

LB Mychal Kendricks: The Eagles clearly thought highly of linebacker Mychal Kendricks when they drafted him with the first of their two second-round picks. Kendricks has started every game this season, and his 76 tackles rank third on the team. Kendricks was moved from the strong side to the weak side in Week 14 and has 12 tackles in the last two games. With his speed and athletic ability, Kendricks figures to be a fixture on defense for years to come.

DE Vinny Curry: It took defensive end Vinny Curry some time to see the field, but the lifelong Eagles fan made sure to make his opportunities count. Curry, the second of the Eagles’ two second-round selections, was a victim of the numbers game early in the season and did not dress for the first 11 games. Since then, Curry has become a solid member of the rotation, and has nine tackles in four games.

QB Nick Foles: The rookie out of Arizona took over for an injured Michael Vick in Week 10 and has thrown for 1,356 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions in six games. Prior to the Eagles’ Week 13 game against the Cowboys, head coach Andy Reid named Foles the starter for the remainder of the year. He rewarded the team's faith with a franchise rookie record 381 yards in the thrilling come-from-behind win over Tampa Bay. Foles will likely be in the mix for the Eagles’ starting quarterback job next season.

CB Brandon Boykin: Despite his 5-8, 182 pound frame, Brandon Boykin came to the Eagles with a reputation as a playmaker. A fourth-round pick for the Eagles, Boykin won both the slot cornerback and kick returner jobs during the preseason, and has shown flashes of his ability this year. Boykin is third in the league in return yards with 953, and has 27 tackles on defense.

OT Dennis Kelly: Drafted in the fifth round, mammoth offensive lineman Dennis Kelly has proven to be a valuable piece for the Eagles this season. Kelly stepped into a starting role midway through the season following injuries to right guard Danny Watkins and right tackle Todd Herremans. Kelly has started nine games this season and has shown impressive versatility. Six of his starts have come at right tackle, while his first three were at right guard.

RB Bryce Brown: The Eagles took a flier on running back Bryce Brown in the seventh round, and it certainly looks like they found a diamond in the rough. After an unusual college career in which he barely played, the former five-star high school recruit won the backup running back job in the preseason. When starter LeSean McCoy was concussed late in the year, Brown stepped in and had an incredible first two starts, accumulating 347 yards and four touchdowns. In all, Brown has 528 yards and four rushing scores on the year.

WR Damaris Johnson: The Eagles signed wide receiver/return man Damaris Johnson as a rookie free agent. When he left college, Johnson was the NCAA’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards. It’s no surprise, then, that Johnson has spent the season as the team’s primary punt returner. Through 15 games, the rookie has 15 catches for 223 yards. He also returned a punt 98 yards for a touchdown against the Cowboys in Week 13.

In all, there have been 16 Eagles who have made their NFL debuts this season ...

FB Stanley Havili: The Eagles grabbed fullback Stanley Havili with their seventh-round selection in the 2011 draft, hoping the former USC Trojan could provide a boost to the offense. Havili spent all of last season on the practice squad and entered Training Camp this summer with a chance to win the job. Though rookie Emil Igwenagu provided some competition, Havili won the job and has provided a physical presence on offense.

WR Marvin McNutt and LB Ryan Rau: Wide receiver Marvin McNutt and linebacker Ryan Rau both saw their first NFL action last Sunday against the Buccaneers. A sixth-round pick for the Eagles, McNutt had an impressive Training Camp and had been on the Eagles’ practice squad all year. Rau was not drafted, but made the Eagles’ practice squad after originally joining the team as a tryout in spring mini-camps.

C Dallas Reynolds: Offensive lineman Dallas Reynolds may not be a rookie, but 2012 was his first season in the NFL spotlight. Reynolds had been a staple on the Eagles’ practice squad for the better part of three seasons after going undrafted in 2009. The BYU alum took over for starting center Jason Kelce after he went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 2. Reynolds stepped up and has started every week since.

DT Cedric Thornton: Defensive tackle Cedric Thornton joined the Eagles as a rookie free agent last season and made the roster out of Training Camp. He was later added to the practice squad, but finished the year on the 53-man roster. But Thornton has taken the next step and is a contributing member of the Eagles’ defensive line. Thornton has 43 tackles and a sack this season.

S David Sims: Safety David Sims was traded from the Browns to the Eagles on the eve of the regular season and has since been an active member of the defense and special teams. Sims is seventh on the team in special teams production points, and started in place of Nate Allen in Week 8 against the Saints.

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