This is what the Eagles mean when they talk about the "next-man-up" philosophy. Alex Singleton is the quintessential next man up. He's been knocking around the professional game since Seattle signed him in the post-draft period in 2015 and has had 15 NFL transactions in that time along with three seasons in the Canadian Football League with Calgary.
On Sunday night, he became an NFL name.
Singleton stepped in at linebacker when T.J. Edwards suffered a hamstring injury and was around the football with a couple of tackles before a big fourth-quarter moment when he was in the right place at the right time, catching a pass from San Francisco quarterback Nick Mullens and returning it 30 yards for a touchdown in what became the winning points in the Eagles' 25-20 win on Sunday Night Football at Levi's Stadium.
"He kind of threw the ball right to me so my heart kind of skipped a beat and I just caught it and went with it and knew I had to get in the end zone," Singleton said. "We talk about it all week, to score on defense, so it was the only thing going through my mind. When T.J. went down, which was a huge loss, that's our MIKE (middle linebacker), T.J. is a great football player, like Coach always talks about, 'Next man up,' and you don't want to be the weak link. You want to be the strong link, so to be able to go out there and be able to do my job is the most important thing for this team and hopefully that's what I did."
No doubt, he did.
Singleton's interception was one of three takeaways for a defense that had not had a single one through an 0-2-1 start to the 2020 season. He intercepted the throw from Mullens and immediately sped up the sideline, lowering his shoulder, and crashing into the end zone for his first touchdown, he said, since his college days. Singleton starred at Montana State before bouncing around the NFL and the CFL, where he was the league's Defensive Player of the Year. He landed with the Eagles last season and became a key part of the special teams – he had 198 special teams snaps in 2019.
Now he's a contributor on defense, and he showed on Sunday night his aggressiveness getting to the football against the running game and making a key takeaway and the Eagles' first defensive score of 2020.
It's an amazing story, really.
"It was a real quiet stadium. It was an interesting feeling," Singleton said when asked what he felt when he reached the end zone. "I haven't scored a touchdown since my junior year of college, so it was really cool. It was exciting to be part of it. Obviously, it's Sunday night, so you've got to go find the Fan Cam in the corner. We talk about that as a defense – when you score where you're going to go, so it was pretty exciting to be able to do that."