It may have been his day off, but linebacker DeMeco Ryans came into Philadelphia to do a different kind of work Tuesday. To celebrate Brian Dawkins' retirement ceremony Sunday night, 10 players and 10 cheerleaders—20 total, in honor of Dawkins' number—read to the students at Comegys Elementary School in Philadelphia.
The school was also the site of the 2012 Eagles Playground Build, and Ryans was excited to return to the school and see the students again.
"It's good to be able to come out here and get in the community and read to kids, just see their interactions," Ryans said. "It's always fun seeing the smiles on their faces; seeing them out (on the playground) enjoying themselves; having a fun time. It's very important to me to be able to come back and do this."
Ryans can organize a huddle and take down charging running backs with no problem, but corralling a room full of second graders proved challenging.
"They told me I had second grade (class to read to), and I thought, 'How am I going to be able to keep their interest?'" Ryans said. "They were very good. I held—well, the book held their interest for long enough, then they were able to come out and play, so it turned out really well."
So which is easier – keeping focus in the huddle or getting a classroom full of excited kids to pay attention?
"It may equally on the same page, trying to keep everybody focused," he said. "Keeping the huddle together is a little bit easier."
Fortunately for Ryans, the only thing that may prevent him from keeping his huddle listening Sunday night will be that they can't hear him through the crowd noise at the Linc. The Dawkins number retirement ceremony promises to further ignite the fans for what is already an intense and exciting rivalry between the Eagles and Giants.
This game is Ryans' first primetime matchup as an Eagle, and he's looking forward to showing what the defense can do with the whole league focused on them.
"One thing I love about primetime games is everybody's watching," he explained. "It's always fun when you're the only show on, and the only teams playing. Everybody around the league (is) watching, so you have to bring your best game."
This game presents an opportunity for the defense to make a statement in primetime. After three games the Eagles are currently ranked fifth in overall defense and eighth against both the pass and run. To build off that success, Ryans and the defense must continue to do what has made them successful thus far.
"We have to continue to go out and do what we do," Ryans said. "Get some stops, create some turnovers. If you want to be a great defense you have to show it on Sunday night."
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