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Mays Getting A Look At MLB

It's been a topsy-turvy season for middle linebacker Joe Mays. After the incumbent middle linebacker Stewart Bradley went down for the year with a torn ACL in training camp, Mays took over as the first-teamer in the middle of the defense. But Mays' position was usurped prior to the season by veteran linebacker Omar Gaither, and Mays spent the majority of the first half of the season on the inactive list.

But after a rocky start, Mays rededicated himself to become a factor on special teams - he led the team with three special teams tackles against the Chargers - and showed the coaching staff that he was willing to do whatever it took to help the team.

Mays said he hopes those efforts will be rewarded with more playing time on defense.

"It's a big chance," Mays said. "Right now I'm just getting some reps in practice, so just in case my number is called, I'll be able to go in there and not have any problems calling and setting the defense and be able to do what I can do.

"It always feels good to be able to get in there and play. But still then again, you can't really get too excited because you still have the game to play. You know, I'm excited to have the opportunity to get some reps, but we'll see what happens when the game comes."

Playing in Chicago against the Bears is extra-special for Mays, who was born and raised in the windy city and is expecting a large contingent of friends and family in attendance.

"It would be special going back home and starting against a hometown team," he said.

In fact, even though he grew up in Chicago, Mays was an Eagles fan because of the success of quarterback Donovan McNabb, who went to one of Mays' rival high schools.

"Just knowing that McNabb was out here taking care of business, it pretty much just made me into an Eagles fan," Mays said. "Somebody from Chicago making it this far, it just gave me somebody to look up to and try to reach the same stage."

Mays has only seen the field on defense sparingly this season, but he thinks he's more prepared now than he was in training camp.

"I was just thinking too much and that will slow my game down a little bit," Mays said. "Now, I'm a lot more comfortable. I was comfortable then, but I was still thinking too much when I got to the game, so now it's all downhill from here."

Mays admitted that there was a point early in the season when he lost focus a little bit.

"Yeah, I did (get down on myself)," he said. "I shouldn't have but I did. But it's just the nature of the game. You know, adjust, get better and then pick up the pieces from where you left off, and that's what I plan on doing."

-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 5:02 p.m., November 19

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