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5 Things: Rodney McLeod's Inspiration


We're on the eve of the first preseason game of the 2016 season. In this edition of 5 Things to Know for Wednesday, August 10, learn about the man who safety Rodney McLeod is dedicating his season to, how is Doug Pederson approaching his first game as a head coach and where you can find the Buccaneers-Eagles game on television ...

1. Rodney McLeod Dedicating Season To Uncle

It was a consistent presence in his recent Instagram posts - "R.I.P. Uncle Frank."

Safety Rodney McLeod left the team for a few days at the end of last week to attend the funeral for his uncle Frank Johnson, who passed away last Wednesday.

Johnson served as an inspiration to McLeod because of his perseverance and positive attitude after complications from back surgery left him paralyzed from the waist down in his early adult life. Eventually, McLeod said, Johnson's fingers started failing him as well.

"Every time I sat beside his bed, we would talk for hours, play games, things like that. He was never sad. It was never a dull moment. He always wanted to have us around. He was the guy in the room who would make you smile. He could crack a joke at any time. That's just who he was," McLeod said. "I've never seen him shed a tear about anything or felt like, 'Why me?' He kept his faith in the Lord and was always positive.

"Seeing him in that state, it makes you take nothing for granted. If he can do it, I have nothing to complain about. I can never imagine myself being in his state and remaining as positive as he did."

McLeod's uncle was able to see his nephew play last season when the Rams traveled to play Washington, which is near where Johnson lived in Clinton, Maryland.

"I was glad that he was able to make it," McLeod said.

Now in Philadelphia on a long-term deal, McLeod will continue to lean on his uncle's spirit.

"It's definitely motivation for me," he said. "He wouldn't want anything less than for me to go out there and make plays, and just continue to play how I play. I'm dedicating this season to him and just know when times are tough to think about him. At the end of the day, I don't have it that bad. I can keep pushing and know that he would want me to fight no matter what."

2. Ten Players To Miss Preseason Opener

Head coach Doug Pederson addressed the media for the final time ahead of the game on Tuesday and announced that 10 players will be sidelined due to injury - safety Malcolm Jenkins, wide receiver Marcus Johnson, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, defensive tackle Mike Martin, wide receiver Jordan Matthews, tackle Jason Peters, wide receiver Hunter Sharp, cornerback JaCorey Shepherd, running back Wendell Smallwood and defensive end Marcus Smith.

With regard to the starting lineup, Matt Tobin will start at left tackle for Peters. Chris Maragos and Jaylen Watkins will rotate in at safety opposite Rodney McLeod. Najee Goode goes in for Kendricks at weakside linebacker. At receiver, Chris Givens and Nelson Agholor are the starters with Matthews out.

3. Pederson Ready For First Game

Chase Daniel spent the past three seasons with Doug Pederson in Kansas City before following him to Philadelphia this offseason. Daniel has watched Pederson make the leap from first-time offensive coordinator to new head coach.

The two shared a moment the other day as Daniel remarked that it is going to be Pederson's first game as a head coach.

"We're all excited for him and excited to go out there and play another team," Daniel said.

Pederson admitted that he probably won't get a lot of sleep on Wednesday night.

"Just kind of keyed up for it and just looking forward (to it)," Pederson said. "There are a lot of things that have to go on between now and then with the planning and scheduling. Just sort of the detailing, even with the players, kind of just managing them. But at the same time, I know personally, it might be a restless night."

4. Vinny Curry: Top Candidate For Breakout Defensive Player?

Kind of buried the notes section of Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column was this nugget on defensive end Vinny Curry.

"Early candidate for breakout defensive player this year: Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry. He's moving from the 3-4 to a 4-3 rush end under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz," King wrote. "In the old defense, he had (12.5) sacks in the past two years."

It's true. In 2014, Curry had nine sacks and four forced fumbles in just 371 snaps (32 percent of the total on defense). He was one of only six NFL player to accumulate at least nine sacks and four forced fumbles that season. He signed a five-year contract this offseason and will be a featured part of the defensive end rotation with Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham.

5. How To Watch On Thursday Night

This is arguably the most important information you will need.

Thursday's game can be seen locally on Comcast SportsNet and Cozi TV beginning at 7 PM. Here's where you can find those channels. SportsRadio 94WIP will showcase the 40th season with Merrill Reese as the Voice of the Eagles alongside Hall of Fame receiver Mike Quick.

If you're not in the area, don't worry. We will have a 30-minute preview on The Kickoff Show presented by Axalta at 6:30 PM online and on our app. You can stream the SportsRadio 94WIP broadcast from our digital channels as well. Need highlights? Witness them on The Halftime Report and on The Post-Game Show presented by Ricoh as we will feature head coach Doug Pederson's press conference live.

Just one more day, until Eagles football.

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