GREEN BAY, Wis. – Already shorthanded without starting cornerback Bradley Fletcher, the depth of the Eagles defense was tested Sunday as both inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks and safety Earl Wolff were lost for the game with injuries in the first quarter. Called into action, two players playing their first significant snaps on defense this season and one veteran working his way back from injury helped the Eagles continue their streak of six straight games allowing 20 points or fewer in a 27-13 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
In place of Fletcher, cornerback Roc Carmichael made the first start of his career on the outside, while Brandon Boykin remained in the slot to focus his attention on Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson.
"It was my first start of my career. A lot of guys didn't know that," Carmichael said after the game. "A lot of guys were saying after the game, like, 'Man, you played pretty well,' and I was like, 'That was my debut.' I guess that was a pretty good debut. I didn't get my hands on the ball. You know DBs want to get an interception on every play, but I think I played well. Basics and fundamentals and stuck to the game plan.
"As the game went on I started saying, 'This is like practice.' It's just like practice. I was so anxious last night, I was up at like 3, 4, 5 in the morning. I kept waking up, kept waking up, looking through my playbook just to see if I could get an edge. But when I went out there, it was just like, this is football."
Though Carmichael may have had an inkling that he'd be pressed into significant action last night, linebacker Najee Goode had no reason to expect he would play the majority of the game alongside DeMeco Ryans in the middle of the Eagles defense. But when Kendricks went down with a knee injury in the first quarter, Goode stepped up.
"To come in and play against a great team in a great stadium, it was my first time ever being here and when I got the chance to get in, I just capitalized on it," said Goode, who was utilized often as a blitzer. "That's what comes back to watching film, listening to every little thing. A lot of players don't realize you watch film, you see the plays, you watch the voiceovers, you hear the cadence and once you got a feel for it, it's just like practice. Hit (the hole), stay low and run through."
"I was really happy with the way they stepped in, especially in the run game," defensive coordinator Bill Davis said of his reserves. "Everybody fit where they were supposed to fit. (The Packers) have a great running attack, really a two-headed monster, and our guys did a great job."
Packers running back Eddie Lacy, who had more rushing yards over the last five weeks than any running back in the league, was held to only 73 yards on 24 carries.
For Goode and Carmichael, each of whom spent the offseason with other organizations, Sunday's performance was a confidence-building one for both them and the defense as a whole.
"I came in the second or third game this year, and people weren't high on our defense," Carmichael said. "But I think people are starting to see that we do have depth and we have guys that can play. We have new coaches, new scheme and everything, so as each day goes on, each practice gets longer, we start to build and work off of each other. For myself and Najee, I just told him, 'That's the kind of game we both needed to have so they could believe in this Eagles defense.'"
At safety, meanwhile, Patrick Chung was expecting to play more this week anyway. With the defense utilizing a three-safety dime package for the first time this season, Chung knew he would be seeing a lot of the field against the Packers. But when Wolff went down, Chung, who has been battling a shoulder injury, was thrust into even more action.
"It felt good," said Chung. "One guy goes down, you have to be prepared to come in there and play. The defense didn't change. The scheme's the same, you just have to execute."
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