Last season, Ed Reynolds spent his time on the Eagles' practice squad, a fact fans watching Sunday's game may have never guessed. In the team's preseason debut against the Colts, the safety tallied not one, but two interceptions in the 36-10 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Both interceptions came during the second half of the game. At that point, the Eagles already had possession of a substantial lead, but the safety always looks for ways to give his team's offense another chance to play. He had the same role during his days at Stanford, finishing his collegiate career 1-yard shy of breaking the NCAA single-season record for interception return yards.
"That was my thing in college, going out there and being a ball-hawk, go out and snatch the ball to give our offense more opportunities," Reynolds said following the game. "It felt good. It's not like I was going out there doing anything crazy. It was just playing our scheme, having good eyes on the quarterback, breaking and believing in what I saw."
Reynolds put his name on the Eagles' radar even more so after today's performance, and he wants nothing more than to keep it there. However, he understands that to do so, he needs to prove himself on more than one occasion.
In his mind, one good game does not equate to a spot on this team. That privilege needs to be earned over time after demonstrating consistency.
The #Eagles took the field on Sunday for their first preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts. View the full gallery here...
"I feel like this is just one step in the right direction to show these coaches I can go out there and be that third safety, but at the same time, it's only one game," said Reynolds, a fifth-round pick in 2014. "We've got the Baltimore Ravens coming up. We've got a whole week of practice, so just showing that it's not just a one-time flash of greatness. I'm trying to come out here and show it every week in and week out."
Although Reynolds wants his game to continue on the up before he earns praise, defensive coordinator Bill Davis was pleased with Sunday's showing.
"We're looking to see guys separating each other from the pack," Davis said. "Ed took a big step today just doing his job. He was where he was supposed to be and the ball came to him and he made his play. I'm happy for him. It was fun to see him have some success out there."
The safety gave much of the credit for his game to the lessons he learned while a member of the practice squad. He experienced moments of frustration. He wanted to be on the team, playing every Sunday and contributing on the field, but that was not in the cards for him at the time.
Now, he is glad to have had that season of practice. It's made him into the player he is today, the one who had two interceptions in the preseason opener.
"I didn't felt like I should have been handed anything, but I just felt like I didn't feel comfortable last year for the early part of it," said Reynolds, who had six interceptions and the near-record 301 return yards as an All-America at Stanford in 2012. "Now being here for the whole year, being on practice squad was actually a lot of help for me.
"I played corner. I played nickel. I did a little bit of everything. I was on special teams. I was doing it all. I was in the best shape of my life. I felt good, and I carried that into the offseason and tried to show these coaches that I'm ready."
Even with a standout performance against Indianapolis, Reynolds continues to look for ways he can improve. Instead of being satisfied with the things he accomplished on the field on Sunday, he wants to show his coaches his true worth.
"I wanted to just prove to the Eagles today that they didn't waste a draft pick on me in the fifth round last year," Reynolds said. "I'm ready to play."