Davis intent on decreasing DeMeco Ryans' snaps


Davis intent on decreasing DeMeco Ryans' snaps

No defensive player in the NFL played more snaps last year than DeMeco Ryans. No lineman, no D-back, no other linebacker.

His 1,156 plays represented 96 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps and was four more than Chad Greenway of the Vikings played.

That number is very high. And it has to come down, Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis said Monday.

“We have to take reps off him,” Davis said. “He’s a warrior and he had way more reps than he should have.

“We want DeMeco for the long haul this season, and so many times when you overwork a veteran -- and he takes great care of his body -- but it’s a lot of games.”

Ryans averaged 72 snaps per game last season. Of the 45 snaps he didn’t play, 42 were at the end of blowouts -- 13 vs. the Bears, a 43-point win; nine vs. the Broncos, a 32-point loss; and 20 vs. the Raiders, a 29-point win.

Twelve times, including the playoff loss to the Saints, Ryans played every snap.

The only NFL players on the field last year more than Ryans were eight offensive linemen and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

But Ryans, a two-time Pro Bowler with the Texans, is an inside linebacker, the most physically demanding job on the field. He turns 30 next month, and with newcomers like Malcolm Jenkins and Nolan Carroll now in the secondary, Davis believes the Eagles are better equipped to spell Ryans this year on some passing downs.

“I think we have more depth than we had and more experience and more people who can play versatile roles in the defense,” Davis said. “I think it’ll help.”

Ryans said after a recent OTA practice that he wants to stay on the field in all situations, and he said there’s been no change in practice so far this offseason in his role.

“I’m a competitor,” Ryans said. “It doesn’t matter to me. I’m here to play. When it’s time to compete, it’s time to compete, but I think we’ll all help ourselves a lot defensively not by not playing more reps but by playing better, playing smarter.”

He joked with a reporter who asked him about reduced snaps, saying, “Trying to get me off the field?”

He added: “I guess that’s the question everybody wants to ask, but I’m still out here playing and giving the team what I have to go out and compete.”

Davis said he’s already spoken with Ryans about decreasing his snaps.

Perhaps significantly.

“Just [being] honest with him,” he said. “I’ve sat him down a couple times. DeMeco’s a great man, and I’ve said, ‘Look, I know you want to be out there every down, everybody does. But I’m telling you right now that I’m going to work to get some ways to give you some relief to have you with us in Week 15 and 16, and he’s great about it.

“He doesn’t want to come off. But neither does Connor [Barwin], neither does Trent [Cole]. None of them want to come off. But what we do as a team and collectively, when you’re honest and explain why it is you want to do what you do, they’re fine. They’re all team players.”

Ryans said head coach Chip Kelly’s sports science and emphasis on conditioning has made it possible for him to play an NFL-high 72 snaps per game without wearing down.

“It helps a lot,” Ryans said of the Eagles’ year-round workout regimen. “Being an older guy, you’re able to come out here day after day and play hard, practice hard, because we know we’re taking care of ourselves from a recovery standpoint.”

Even Davis conceded that Ryans’ play late last season showed no dropoff from early in the season.

He wants to make sure that happens again, with Ryans a year older.

“He had some big games late,” Davis said. “He was hitting people and covering. I don’t think it was any different.”

Eagles Inactives: Bennie Logan (groin) out vs. Vikings

Eagles Inactives: Bennie Logan (groin) out vs. Vikings

Eagles defensive tackle Bennie Logan (groin) is inactive for the team’s game against the Vikings at the Linc on Sunday afternoon.

Logan missed practice all week but was listed as questionable and was said to be a game-time decision. Beau Allen will start in his place, but the Eagles will likely use more Allen, Fletcher Cox, Destiny Vaeao and Vinny Curry at tackle.

While Logan is inactive, Ron Brooks (calf), Leodis McKelvin (hamstring) and Mychal Kendricks (ribs) are all active. The trio was listed as questionable coming into the weekend.

Joining Logan among the inactive players are: OL Dillon Gordon, OL Josh Andrews, OL Isaac Seumalo, CB C.J. Smith, S Terrence Brooks and WR Bryce Treggs.

Despite Tregg’s getting extended reps this week in practice, he’s still not playing.

For the Vikings, wideout Stefon Diggs (groin), who was listed as questionable, is active.

Vikings inactives: WR Laquon Treadwell, WR Jarius Wright, LB Kentrell Brothers, C Nick Easton, G Willie Beavers, DT Sharrif Floyd, TE MyCole Pruitt.

Eagles-Vikings: 5 matchups to watch

Eagles-Vikings: 5 matchups to watch

The Eagles (3-2) have an extremely tough game against Sam Bradford and the Vikings (5-0) on Sunday at the Linc.

The Vikings come out of their bye week as the NFL's only undefeated team, while the Eagles have lost to Detroit and Washington following their bye.

Here are five matchups to watch:

Sam Bradford vs. Eagles' defense
The big storyline all week has been the return of Sam Bradford to Philadelphia, where he spent the 2015 season and most of the 2016 offseason.

How much will familiarity play a role on Sunday?

Bradford clearly knows the Eagles' defensive personnel and scheme, having played against the defense throughout training camp. But on the flip side, the defense knows all of Bradford's tendencies. We dove into this in depth earlier in the week (see story).

What has made Bradford so good through his first four games with the Vikings (he didn't play in the opener) has been the way he's protected the football. He hasn't thrown an interception yet and the Vikings' offense hasn't yet turned the football over.

Stefon Diggs vs. Leodis McKelvin
Diggs might be a little banged up, but as long as he's on the field, the Eagles will need to keep an eye on him. Diggs is an absolute burner, so it's a good thing the Eagles will likely have their fastest corner, McKelvin back this week.

But McKelvin is coming off a hamstring injury that has bothered him since early in the season, so we'll need to see if he can make it through this game. If he can't, rookie Jalen Mills will get in the game. Without blazing speed, Mills had trouble containing DeSean Jackson last week.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai vs. Danielle Hunter/Brian Robinson
Big V's NFL debut wasn't a good one. He gave up five quarterback hurries and two sacks against Washington. This week, he'll have to deal with Robinson and Hunter on that right side of the offensive line.

Robinson and Hunter are each tied for the Vikings' lead with four sacks this season. They're likely salivating at the idea of seeing Vaitai on Sunday.

Kyle Rudolph vs. Malcolm Jenkins
While Diggs has been the Vikings' leading receiver, Rudolph is a dangerous component to the team's passing attack. Through five games, Rudolph has 21 catches for 236 yards and three touchdowns.

It will be a team effort to stop him Sunday. At times, he'll be covered with a linebacker and at times a safety. We'll list Jenkins here because he gave up a touchdown to 32-year-old Vernon Davis last week.

Vikings' run game vs. Eagles' run defense
The Vikings have the worst run game in the NFL. They've average a league-low 2.45 yards per attempt. They’re the first team since the 2010 Broncos to have a rushing average of 2.5 or worse through five games. And they’re just the 11th team since 1940 to do it.

But the Vikings are going to try to run the ball against the Eagles. Why wouldn't they?

The Eagles were absolutely gashed for 230 yards by Washington. They had 10 missed tackles and gave up 156 yards after contact. Something's gotta give here.