Linebacker Jamar Chaney began the offseason locked in a battle not only for a starting job, but for a clear role on defense. Since being drafted in the seventh round in 2010, Chaney has learned all three linebacker positions, spending the majority of last season as the starter in the middle.
But the Eagles' offseason netted the team two intriguing new linebackers in All-Pro DeMeco Ryans and second-round pick Mychal Kendricks. Now, Chaney is a man looking for a role.
As the dog days of Training Camp chugged along, Chaney duked it out with Brian Rolle for the starting weakside linebacker position. Chaney was promoted to the defense's nickel package in early August, but his victory was short lived. On that very same afternoon, he injured his hamstring and scarcely saw the field for the remainder of camp.
Missing time is unusual for Chaney, and not something he enjoyed.
"This is my first time missing a practice since I've been with the Eagles, so it's been kind of hard for me," Chaney said Thursday. "But you just have to go out there and work a little bit harder."
It comes as no surprise, then, that Chaney is itching to get back on the field. And not just because he wants to play the game he loves – he also wants to prove himself.
"Getting taken off the nickel last year, and coming into OTAs and Training Camp as a backup, you want to go out there and you want to show everybody that you are starting and you have something to prove," Chaney said. "And that's what I plan on doing."
While Chaney did practice on Thursday, he wanted to make sure to take it slow.
"You want to get back out there as fast as you can, but at the same time, it's a hamstring," Chaney said. "If I mess it up even worse, I'm going to be out during the regular season too. To me, I want to be back as fast as I can. I was having a good Training Camp, but at the same time you want to make sure you don't have any setbacks."
Chaney said this is only the second hamstring injury of his entire playing career. The first happened two weeks before the 2010 Scouting Combine. How well did he heal? He ran the fastest time in the 40-yard dash of any linebacker in Indianapolis that year.
With expectations still high for the Eagles, particularly on defense, Chaney knows he can't afford a down season. His plan is to attack the remainder of the preseason the same way the elite players in the NFL do.
"Football is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately kind of a sport, so you have to go out there you have to prove it every single day, even if you are one of the starters," he explained. "If you have one bad season, people are going to look to replace you. That pressure is still on you.
"You have to have that mindset that guys like Tom Brady said he has, every year they think they're probably going to lose their job if they go out and perform badly. So you have to have that kind of mindset. And that's the kind of mindset I have."
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