Eagles

After missing last year's playoff run, Rodney McLeod savoring every moment

After missing last year's playoff run, Rodney McLeod savoring every moment

If there’s one lesson Rodney McLeod took from the ACL injury that ended his 2018 season early, it’s to never take any part of the game for granted. 

As McLeod gets ready for this playoff run, he’s savoring every moment. 

“Opportunities like this don’t come often,” McLeod said Thursday. “I feel like it took me a while to get to the playoffs and now I’m able to get back coming off the injury. Looking forward to it. Want to take full advantage of the opportunity and not take it for granted. Give it everything I got.”

McLeod, 29, didn’t get to the playoffs until his sixth season in the NFL. When he finally did, he was a big part of the run to Super Bowl LII. 

But last year, he tore his ACL in the third game of the season and was forced to watch the rest of the season, including the improbable playoff run to Chicago and New Orleans. 

It was the first serious injury of his career and it taught him something important. 

Any play, it can be taken away from you,” McLeod said. “It put things in perspective for me. I feel like I always play the game with a lot of passion and energy. At the end of the day, I think it does put things in perspective.”

Coming off his ACL tear, McLeod has been playing at a high level this season. Not only has he started all 16 games, he’s missed just two of 1,034 defensive snaps on the year. 

As the Eagles’ free safety, McLeod is a calming presence for a secondary that, for the second straight season, had been decimated by injury at the cornerback position. And having McLeod on the field allows Jim Schwartz to take advantage of Malcolm Jenkins’ versatility, playing him all over the field and sending him on more blitzes than last year. 

“He's such a consistent player for us and again, he just gives us such a sense of calm on the field because he's such a good communicator,” Schwartz said. “He’s certainly a valuable part of our team.”

This past offseason, McLeod agreed to restructure his contract, taking a pay cut to keep him in Philly for 2019. After this season, McLeod will become an unrestricted free agent. But it’s no surprise McLeod wanted to stay here; he’s invested a lot in this franchise. 

Even last year, when he was injured, he was still a huge part of the team. McLeod was in every meeting, at every game. He was a mentor, a sounding board and a hype man. It was McLeod who would pump up the defensive backs in the tunnel before every key game down the stretch. 

“I think just me being one of the leaders on this team, I felt like it was just part of my duty and role at that time,” McLeod said. “I wasn’t able to be out there with the team and contribute. But what I could do was motivate some guys, encourage some dudes and shed a little light. I felt like that was my role last year and that’s what I did to help these guys out.”

That support throughout last season was meaningful to his teammates, especially Avonte Maddox. Then a rookie, Maddox filled in for McLeod for a good portion of the season as a free safety. 

Maddox said it meant a lot to have McLeod guiding him through a new position through every turn last season. 

But how much does it mean to have McLeod back on the field this year? 

“A lot more,” Maddox said with a smile. 

It means an awful lot to McLeod too. And he’s going to enjoy every minute of it. 

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Former Eagles OL coach Howard Mudd dies at age 78

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Former Eagles OL coach Howard Mudd dies at age 78

The 1964 NFL draft was held Dec. 2, 1963.

A week later Howard Mudd got a phone call.

"The 49ers mailed a letter to our athletic director (at Hillsdale College) letting them know they had drafted me and inviting me to training camp," Mudd told me in the summer of 2012. "Our AD opened his mail and called me, and that's how I found out I was drafted."

Mudd, the 49ers' 9th-round pick, went on to a brilliant playing career and a spectacular coaching career, including two years on Andy Reid’s staff with the Eagles. 

Mudd, considered one of the greatest offensive line coaches in NFL history, died on Wednesday, two weeks after a motorcycle accident in Seattle, his family announced through Mike Chappell of Fox 59 in Indianapolis. 

He was 78.

Mudd was a guard on the NFL’s team of the decade for the 1960s. He was only 28 when he retired after a serious knee injury.

He began his coaching career at Cal in 1972 and spent 1974 through 2012 as an offensive line coach with eight teams before retiring.

Mudd came out of retirement in February of 2019 to briefly serve as a senior offensive assistant with the Colts under former Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who had worked with Mudd as an assistant with the Colts in 2008 and 2009. Mudd retired from that position in September.

Mudd's last full-time job was the Eagles' offensive line coach in 2011 and 2012. He came out of his first retirement to replace Juan Castillo after Castillo replaced current Bills head coach Sean McDermott as Eagles defensive coordinator.

"(Reid) said, 'I want you to consider coming out of retirement. Would you consider that?'" Mudd told Philly reporters after joining the Eagles in February of 2011. "I was kind of stumbling around for things to say and I said, 'I'm very flattered.' We talked and chatted. Andy is pretty persuasive. My daughter said, 'Dad you retired. You get to do anything you want.' I said, 'I want to go coach. That's what I do.'"

Jason Kelce was a rookie 6th-round pick in 2011, Mudd's first year with the Eagles. In a "Five Minutes with Roob" segment in 2017, Kelce recalled Mudd telling him to think like a starter:

"I definitely didn't have a mentality that I was going to be the starter, to tell you the truth," he said. "My mentality was just to go out there and compete and make the team and I think just do the best I can, and fortunately I had an offensive line coach who believed in me, Howard Mudd, and he taught me a bunch of techniques as an under-sized player that I could utilize at this level. I still remember having a conversation with him where he said, 'Do you want to play this year?' And at that point that wasn't really in my mind."

Here's a story Dave Zangaro wrote about Mudd in the fall of 2011, after Mudd had hip replacement surgery.

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Eagles QB coach Press Taylor back at work following quarantine

Eagles QB coach Press Taylor back at work following quarantine

Not only is Doug Pederson back at the NovaCare Complex, his quarterbacks coach is as well.

Press Taylor has returned to work after being quarantined following Pederson’s positive COVID test.

Because Taylor was in close quarters with Pederson, he was quarantined away from the NovaCare Complex until a series of tests came back negative and he showed no symptoms. 

As with players, it's up to the individual if he chooses to announce whether he actually had the virus or was simply quarantined for being around someone who did.

Although there is a COVID reserve list for players who either test positive or have been in close proximity to someone who has, there is no similar list for coaches, and NFL teams are under no obligation to announce when or if any coaches have either tested positive or have been quarantined without a positive test.

Pederson and Taylor were both sent home from work on Aug. 2. Pederson returned on Wednesday.

Two of the three Eagles who were placed on the COVID reserve list on July 29 - Nate Gerry and Lane Johnson - have returned to the team. That leaves third-year offensive tackle Jordan Mailata as the only known remaining player or coach not currently with the team.

Taylor joined the Eagles as one of Chip Kelly’s offensive quality control coaches in 2013. He became offensive quality control and assistant quarterbacks coach under Pederson in 2016, quarterbacks coach in 2018 and had the passing game coordinator tag added to his title this year.

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