You’d see him jumping up and down and screaming on the sideline. You’d see him trash talking with the offense. You’d see him encouraging his teammates, sharing some coaching tips after a play, working up a good sweat as those steamy training camp practices went on.
Rodney McLeod did everything at practice during training camp. Except practice.
“It helps,” McLeod said. “When I’ve been here by myself for so long, it felt good just to have the guys back around in training camp, being out on the sidelines. It just makes me feel a part of the team, even though I’m not out there competing. I still feel like I’m contributing, giving something.
“I had to put myself in a position where my hat was a little bit different this camp. The first camp I’ve ever missed. So I had to wear the coaches’ cap and figure out how I could help the guys in the best way possible and also be in their corner cheering those guys on as guys fight for starting spots to potential roster spots.”
McLeod’s days as a cheerleader are over. At least, his days as only a cheerleader are over.
On Monday, about 8 ½ months after he tore his left ACL in a game against the Saints at the Linc, McLeod was activated off the PUP list and onto the Eagles’ 53-man roster.
If he was still on PUP after final roster cuts at 4 p.m. Tuesday, McLeod would have missed at least the first six weeks of the season.
Instead, he’s back at practice, although he only participated in individual drills on Monday.
What does it mean for opening day? That’s been McLeod’s goal all along. We’re now just 12 days away from Eagles-Falcons in Atlanta.
“The fact that I was able to get back out there today is a blessing, a credit to the trainers, long hours, long days,” McLeod said after practice. “It felt good for the first day. It’s a first step and regards to Week 1, just trust the trainers and taking it one day at a time and they’ll monitor my progression as these days go on and we get closer.
“I am feeling good. It was great to get out there and get some reps and get some drill work with my teammates.”
McLeod has been an under-rated fixture at safety since he originally signed here in 2016. He’s one of only nine players left from Doug Pederson’s first year here and one of only 11 players remaining from the Super Bowl team.
The Eagles don’t really have a replacement if McLeod is unable to go on Sept. 12. K’Von Wallace was a 4th-round pick last year but is currently sidelined. Either Marcus Epps and Andrew Adams would probably get the nod opposite Anthony Harris in the Eagles’ rebuilt secondary.
Don’t bet against McLeod.
“It comes down to when you make those plays that you’re accustomed to making,” he said. “Early on, hopefully not, but I might be a step short. So it’s just really seeing yourself making those plays again, and I think naturally the confidence comes with that.
"I think once those things happen, that reassurance that what I’m feeling and how I’m feeling aligns with one another, I’ll feel fine (and be ready to play). Anxious to get back into competitive periods and we’ll just see when that time comes.”
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