Cre’Von LeBlanc’s career hasn’t followed the path he anticipated when the Patriots signed him out of Florida Atlantic after he went undrafted in 2016.
The Patriots, Bears and Lions have all given up on him, he was on the Lions’ practice squad as recently as 14 months ago, and he missed most of this season with a foot injury.
Today? You just wonder where the Eagles would be without him.
Like so many Eagles — from Jason Peters to Greg Ward to Boston Scott to Nate Gerry to Jake Elliott — he’s gone from practice squad to a key part of a playoff team.
"You hear the talk and you hear what people say – ‘Oh, he’s just a practice squad guy, he’s this, he’s that.’ I’m not a ‘practice squad guy.’ I’m very capable of making all the plays every time I’m out there," LeBlanc said. "I don’t know how many times I got to show the world I can make those plays for me not to be ‘a practice squad guy.’ But everybody’s got their own opinions and at the end of the day I don’t let that bother me, I just go out there and do what I do. But you hear it. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, did you see that? He tackled Saquon.’ People have labels and you’ve got to break down that barrier and I feel like I’m doing that.”
LeBlanc has played more than a few snaps in only 10 games in an Eagles uniform, but anybody who’s paying attention can see how much he brings to this defense.
“We've always had a lot of confidence in him, and with the injury situation we had, he had to go out (Sunday) and play just about every snap in the game and really came through for us,” Jim Schwartz said. “He's a really good tackler, tough finishing at the ball. Our ability to win that game had a lot to do with Cre'Von.”
Mills and Maddox will both be back Sunday for the wild-card playoff game against the Seahawks at the Linc, along with Douglas, so it’s tough to say what LeBlanc’s role will be.
Malcolm Jenkins was saying Thursday that earlier in the season the challenge for the defensive coaches was finding enough capable corners to fill every role. Now the challenge is finding enough roles for all the capable corners.
LeBlanc doesn’t know exactly where he’ll fit in, but that’s nothing new for the 25-year-old.
“My career has definitely been a roller-coaster so far,” he said. “Up, down, cut twice, being on a practice squad, come here, play well in the postseason, then get hurt. Looking back on it, I would definitely say it’s been bittersweet.”
Le’Blanc suffered a Lisfranc sprain in his left foot on July 27, the first day of training camp.
The Eagles kept him on the 53-man roster when they had final cuts, then placed him on Injured Reserve on Sept. 2, which gave them the flexibility to activate him when he was healthy.
That finally happened on Nov. 30, more than four months after he got hurt.
“At first it was like six to eight weeks and then it just prolonged and prolonged,” he said. “It was tough. With these foot injuries you never know. I did get frustrated a bit, but then every couple weeks I’d have a big improvement and I was confident I’d be back at some point.”
He made quite a splash Sunday, with eight tackles, a couple big third-down coverage stops, a 4th-down pass breakup on Sterling Shepard and a piviotal tackle on Saquon Barkley for no gain on a 4th-and-2 in the fourth quarter.
“I felt great out there,” he said. “I just tried to be active, fly around, be energetic, be that spark, be myself and make plays.”
Good things happen when LeBlanc is on the field. We saw it in the playoff game in New Orleans last year, when he picked off Drew Brees on the first play of the game, and we saw it Sunday at the Meadowlands.
The Eagles like LeBlanc enough that they gave him a contract extension through 2020 to make sure they didn’t lose him after this season.
Unusual for a guy who’s only played 13 games in an Eagles uniform.
But watching him play, it makes perfect sense.
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