TAMPA, FL -- It turns out the defensive line wasn't the only part of the defense that was tweaked leading up to Sunday's 23-21 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.
Last Monday, the Eagles relieved defensive line coach Jim Washburn of his duties and brought back former defensive line coach Tommy Brasher to oversee the unit for the final quarter of the season. That move was made public.
On that same day, the Eagles also took rookie linebacker Mychal Kendricks and moved him from the strong side to the weak side. Jamar Chaney, who had previously started 20 regular season games in his three seasons with the team, was re-inserted into the lineup as the starting strongside linebacker.
That move was not known to fans until the first defensive drive Sunday.
"When you get your opportunities, you have to be ready to go," said Chaney, who had four tackles and a pass deflection. "That's the main thing I was doing, trying to make sure I was ready to go."
A second-round pick this year, Kendricks was moved to the weak side because, as head coach Andy Reid said, it's his more natural position. Kendricks is allowed to attack the line of scrimmage and showcase his athleticism in space.
In the first quarter, Kendricks tackled Buccaneers running back Danny Ware after a lateral for a loss of 7 yards. In the second quarter, Kendricks penetrated the line of scrimmage on a third-and-1 which forced Buccaneers running back Doug Martin to pause and allowed defensive end Vinny Curry to come from the backside to make the tackle for a loss of a yard.
Kendricks, who remained in the nickel subpackage with DeMeco Ryans, finished tied for the team lead with seven tackles and also had three pass breakups.
"It was fun. I had a great time," Kendricks said.
Chaney had worked this offseason to try and win the weakside linebacker job after Kendricks was inserted as the starting strongside linebacker following the Draft. Chaney was inching closer to the starting lineup until he suffered a hamstring injury, which sidelined him during the preseason. Chaney said that he had started working back on the strong side in practice following the Week 5 game against Pittsburgh.
"(I) just made sure I kept working hard and stayed positive," said Chaney, who was the special teams captain on Sunday. "I knew the opportunity was going to come. I just didn't know when it was going to come."
Now that the opportunity is here, it's up to Chaney to make the most of it.
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