Since becoming teammates with Rodney McLeod earlier this year, rookie K’Von Wallace has learned a ton from his veteran teammate.
Now it’s time to put those lessons to use.
Because McLeod is out for the rest of the 2020 season after tearing his ACL last week and Wallace is one of the main players who will be replacing him.
“Being that Rodney is out, we’re taking a huge loss in the back end,” Wallace said Friday. “A guy that is a leader, is a captain of this defense and just brings that positive energy, that positive swagger, all the intangibles that he brings to the game.”
Technically, Wallace already made his first NFL start way back on Oct. 4 against San Francisco. But since that game, he had been used very sparingly until the last two weeks. Against the Packers, he played 16 defensive snaps and he played a new career-high 28 against the Saints last week.
This weekend, he figures to have an even bigger role as the Eagles scramble to replace the iron man in their secondary.
Wallace, 23, has learned many lessons from McLeod in the last several months and he listed some of them on Friday: How to line up, bring intensity as a tackler and ,most importantly, how to communicate as a safety. McLeod has really helped Wallace understand the position on a level he hadn’t before.
Because when Wallace arrived at Clemson, he had only ever played cornerback and receiver and wasn’t moved to safety until his sophomore season. So Wallace admitted on Friday that he’s still learning some of the nuance of that position.
“[McLeod has] done a very good job explaining what it is to be a safety in the NFL,” Wallace said. “And just doing a good job of helping me with communicating and getting lined up and just knowing my keys and assignments and alignments and just executing.”
The Eagles used a fourth-round pick on Wallace so these last three games will go a long way in showing them what they have in the rookie. After all, the future at the safety position is very much up in the air.
McLeod is signed through next season but is now coming off a second ACL tear in a few years, Jalen Mills is scheduled to be a free agent, Will Parks was cut a few weeks ago. There’s not much else. So if Wallace shows something down the stretch, he could figure into the long-term plans at the position.
Wallace said that a few days ago, he was sitting in his room reflecting about how far he’s come as a player since getting drafted in April. “I’m still a rookie but honestly it doesn’t really feel like it,” he said.
In the last few months, he understands his role better in Jim Schwartz’s defense, he’s adjusted to life in the NFL, his notes are more detailed, his communication is more precise and the game is starting to feel more natural to him at this level.
“Everything is just starting to slow down and become easier,” he said. “As a player, I don’t feel like a rookie. I feel like I can get lined up and execute.”
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