Alex Singleton was probably better equipped to handle getting benched than anybody.
Considering his career path – undrafted out of Montana State, released by the Seahawks, Patriots and Vikings, relegated to the CFL for a few years, starting out on the Eagles’ practice squad – he's keenly aware of the realities of the NFL.
And he knows, whatever happens, you can't afford to feel sorry for yourself.
“I think sometimes it can be hard to do," he said. "As a job, you’ve got to make a choice every day when you wake up whether you’re going to perform at whatever level you’re supposed to in the role that you’re in and if not you’ll get fired from that job no matter what you do and obviously this job has a faster turnover rate,” Singleton said.
“If you want to sit back and complain for a day? I took a long time to get here and a long time to learn how to be a pro and do all those things, so to let something I can’t control control that? Would probably be the biggest detriment to my career to do that to myself. So just stay up and be ready.”
Singleton did stay ready, and after losing his starting linebacker job to Davion Taylor and seeing his reps dwindle down to just 10 against both the Chargers and Broncos, he replaced Taylor when the second-year pro hurt his knee Sunday just seven snaps into the Saints game.
“I had a choice,” Singleton said. “You can lay down and just kind of feel sorry for yourself and hurt this team and hurt the organization and ultimately hurt yourself by probably losing a job pretty quickly if you do that. So I decided whatever I could do to make the team better. … I enjoy doing anything I can for this team. I love this game. So I don’t care if I get one snap or 100 snaps, they’re all going to be the same.”
Singleton only missed three snaps the last two months of last season, and he was playing about 72 percent of the snaps when he got benched for Taylor after the Panthers game.
And Taylor played well. He gave the Eagles a little more athleticism, speed and playmaking than Singleton.
But when Taylor left the game in the first quarter Sunday, Singleton was ready.
“Even though you saw Alex's snaps kind of go down a little bit, it's a testament to him, and the other guys that are in that room, all of our guys, they're all ready to play,” Jonathan Gannon said. “And they get themselves ready to play.
“If you can go in, you can be a starter. You can be a starter in every package, a starter in certain packages, or you could be the pair and the spare that we talk about. And you’ve got to be able to go in and play winning football.
“So I was really excited for Alex, because when he got in there, he played well. And that's really a testament to him. Sometimes when your snaps get diminished, a lot of guys I've seen go in the tank a little bit, and that hasn't been him because he's got high football character. And that's the guys we want to be there.”
Singleton actually had one of his better games of the year Sunday after replacing Taylor. He had seven tackles, a quarterback hit on a blitz and a pass knockdown. He played all 58 defensive snaps after Taylor left the game and also played 20 special teams snaps.
“Alex, he’s the ultimate pro,” T.J. Edwards said. “He’s been everywhere, from the CFL to a bunch of different teams, and he understands how things go I’m sure better than others. (After he lost his starting job) he was a guy who was still a leader in our room, a guy we rely on to keep things together, and when he was ready to go, he jumped right in and was making plays like he always does.”
Taylor is on Injured Reserve, so Singleton will likely start Sunday against the Giants and the next two games alongside Edwards.
After that? Who knows. But Singleton is ready for whatever happens next.
“For most of my career, I’ve had to have that kind of ‘do-whatever-you-can-and-not-really-worry-about-what’s-going-on-around-you (mindset),’” he said. “And when you get to play do everything you can and so that’s the mindset I took the entire time, that I was going to do everything I could for this team to win games and then also to just make myself better during that time and for anything to happen step up and be ready to play.”
Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast: