It may not be the biggest question in the minds of Eagles fans heading into Sunday night's big matchup against the Dallas Cowboys, but it's an interesting toss-up nonetheless: Who will Keenan Clayton's dad be rooting for, the Eagles or the Cowboys?
You see, growing up in Sulpher Springs, TX, Clayton was raised by his father Quon, as die-hard a Cowboys fan as they come. But when the Eagles made Clayton the 121st pick of the 2010 draft, they not only got themselves a versatile linebacker, they got themselves a turncoat fan.
"He's going to be rooting for us because I'm here," Clayton said of his father. "But if it wasn't for me, I would have to say he'd be rooting for the Cowboys."
Sunday night will certainly be a homecoming of sorts for Clayton, who expects to have roughly 40 family members and friends in attendance cheering him on.
"It's hard to put it into words," Clayton said of the impending road trip. "It feels good to get a chance to go back home and get a chance to play in front of your family and friends on this level. Just growing up watching the Cowboys, it goes way back. Ever since I was little I was watching those guys. It's just going to be something that I'll always remember. I can't let it get overwhelming, because then it'll be kind of like a deer in the headlights but it'll be fun."
After a slow start to his rookie campaign when he was inactive for the first seven games, Clayton has started to make an impact as a solid special teamer and part-time contributor on defense. Clayton, who began his career at Oklahoma as a safety, brings a different dimension to the defense when he's subbed in.
"I feel like I bring a guy that's a little bit heavier that can still cover with the tight ends, that can be a little bit more physical with those guys and keep them from getting free releases off the line and just bring a different aspect as far as a bigger safety type," Clayton said. "It's been a blessing just actually getting a chance to get out and play, show the coaches what I can do. I'm still trying to earn their confidence in me, showing them what I can do in practice and then doing whatever I need to do whenever my number's called in the game."
But as excited as he is to make an impact on defense, Clayton knows the biggest reason he's been playing of late is special teams. The rookie has made an instant contribution to the coverage units, as he posted an impressive 28 special teams production points two weeks ago against the Chicago Bears, tied for the third highest total in a game for an Eagle this season.
"Right now, I just have to keep pushing on special teams," Clayton said. "It's a key factor in the game and we can't relax on there. Right now, I'm worried about what I have to do on defense, but special teams is what's holding me on the field on the active roster right now.
"I can say I've been doing pretty well (on special teams), but I'm never complacent. There's always room for improvement every week. So if it's not one thing I need to work on it's another. So far so good."
The good news for Clayton is that as a core member of the special teams units, he'll probably have a chance get rid of the butterflies on the opening play of the game. That is, if he can block out the cheering fans - some of whom might sound pretty familiar.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 8:22 a.m., December 11