As the Eagles prepare to travel to Green Bay this weekend, they do so with their trio of inside linebackers healthy and prepared to play. DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso all plan to put on the pads for their first, and most likely last, game action until the start of the regular season.
What remains to be determined is the rotation head coach Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Bill Davis will use to ensure all three players see enough time on the field. Will snaps be distributed equally? Will Kelly plan certain packages depending on the opposition's offense?
It remains a mystery to not only Eagles fans, but also the three linebackers themselves.
"I really don't think much about that because you never know what's going to happen, who's going to be out there, if we're all going to be out there," Ryans said. "We don't know exactly how it's going to work out. We'll see when the time comes."
The game will be Ryans' first since suffering an Achilles injury last November, making him more than excited to get back to playing football. He feels very close to reaching a full recovery, but the final piece to the puzzle is the mental aspect.
Right now, getting his football timing back is Ryans' priority, and the best way to do that is through preseason game experience and working with his teammates. Alonso feels the same way, as he anxiously awaits his return after missing the entire 2014 season with a knee injury. Both anticipate playing time in the game against the Packers.
Alonso, however, is also looking forward to playing with his new teammates, Ryans and Kendricks, for the first time. All three together will surely form a force to be reckoned with this year, especially as they spend more time learning about the plan the team sets in place for the linebackers.
"I don't really know how that's going to go, but I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing," Alonso said. "Mych and DeMeco are great football players, great guys as well. I'm very excited to play with them."
The depth at inside linebacker will surely be a strength for the Eagles moving forward. Ryans, Kendricks and Alonso all offer different attributes to the defense. With the pace at which they play and the diversity, the linebackers are not concerned with details like the number of snaps they each take per game or even per practice.
They want to work in harmony, doing the most they can to lead their team to victory. Instead of forging an unhealthy competition, they are working to support one another and create a single unit.
"Mych and Kiko know how to run the defense," Ryans said. "Those guys are good."
Kendricks felt so strongly about the team and the culture in Philadelphia that he was even willing and excited to extend his contract earlier this week. Clearly, all three want to be part of this team, and that will take them far when the season kicks off.
"I truly believe in what we're doing here," Kendricks explained on Wednesday. "I feel like I'm a part of something special, and I feel like we're doing things that no other entity in the league is doing. There's no other teams doing the things we're doing, and I'm happy to be a part of it. I really believe in this team."
Saturday's first look at the rotation and the three inside linebackers should offer a taste of what's to come in the regular season. Until the linebackers play, all they can do is prove that they are going to work hard and strive for success.
"They can expect," Alonso began, "that I'm going to give it all I've got."
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