Flanked by his new head coach in Andy Reid to his right and his new general manger in Howie Roseman to his left, new Eagles middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans had no problem being the center of attention on stage at the NovaCare Complex during his introductory press conference Wednesday afternoon.
It should come as no surprise that Ryans, who sported a suit along with a mint green tie, is more comfortable in the middle of three people because he thrived as the MIKE linebacker in Houston's 4-3 defense earning two Pro Bowl invites before the Texans switched to a 3-4 scheme last season.
Initially surprised by the trade, the 6-1, 247-pound Ryans embraced the idea of coming to Philadelphia calling it a "perfect fit" and playing again in a 4-3 scheme is "what I do naturally."
Head coach Andy Reid declared that Ryans is "one of the top 4-3 middle linebackers in the National Football League" and will be a three-down linebacker in coordinator Juan Castillo's defense.
Nicknamed "Cap" because of his leadership capabilities as a team captain during his six-year tenure in Houston, Ryans is proud to become the middle linebacker of the Eagles defense. Ryans was made well aware of Eagles fans' desire for an impact linebacker, but doesn't look at himself as any sort of savior.
"I can sense that everyone has been looking for that middle linebacker, and I'm happy to be the guy that they chose to step in and be the middle linebacker of this defense," Ryans said. "I'm just looking to step in and do my job. How the fans view it or not, I'm going to be myself and do what I do on the field. I'm not going to be someone that I'm not and I'm just going to continue to be myself."
The 27-year-old Ryans leaves Houston as the franchise's all-time leader in tackles with 636. He also generated 8.5 sacks, two interceptions, six forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and a touchdown. In addition to his two Pro Bowl selections, Ryans was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2006 after being a second-round selection out of Alabama. As one of the stalwarts of the young Texans franchise, Ryans got to be part of the team that won its first division title and playoff game this past season.
"It was great. Houston was a place where we were building toward a playoff run," Ryans said. "It took us a while to get there, but once we had the core guys in place and we did what winning teams do. We practiced the way winning teams practice, and we went out about our ways the way winning teams do. You saw that come to light with us making the playoffs and us making a run on it."
Ryans returned in 2011 after an Achilles injury prematurely ended his 2010 season after just six games. Outside of that 10-game stretch, Ryans has not missed a game in his career. Last year, Ryans started in all 16 games and was third on the team with 64 tackles. Ryans said that he's "100 percent" recovered from the injury. General manager Howie Roseman thought that Ryans' performance improved as the season progressed.
"You're talking about a really physical, instinctive linebacker. He's in control of that defense," Roseman said. "As the season went on … He was getting it all back and we thought he played his best football in the playoffs. We always watch the middle linebacker in the biggest games toward the end of the season. We had the opportunity to watch him in a 4-3 defense a few years back and see him play against the NFC East. We felt very confident and comfortable making this trade."
With Ryans locked into the middle of the Eagles defense, Reid said that he has "some options" for who will take over the weak side and strong side positions. Last year, Brian Rolle finished as the weakside linebacker and Akeem Jordan was on the strong side.
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