Eagles Coach Nick Sirianni Stashing ‘Special Athlete’ for Super Bowl

Nick Sirianni

Getty Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni went to work at his first training camp in South Philly on July 28.

Perhaps a little-known Super Bowl fact is that players on the practice squad do travel with the team. They are permitted to stand on the sidelines during the game and collect rings in the event of a victory. There is an outside shot one or two guys could be elevated to the active roster ahead of kickoff.

The Philadelphia Eagles elevated Anthony Harris roughly 24 hours prior to the NFC Championship Game. However, the veteran safety remained inactive against the San Francisco 49ers. It’ll be interesting to see what the Eagles do in the coming days in terms of roster moves. History says they’ll stick to the script. No need to promote someone without experience at a luxury position, say, like wide receiver.

But, what if the Eagles wanted to bolster their special-teams unit by tossing a chip on a long shot? Head coach Nick Sirianni could aggressively think outside the box if he elevated Olympic hurdler Devon Allen from the practice squad, then made him active on Super Bowl Sunday. It’s not like Britain Covey and Boston Scott are lighting the world on fire back there.

Allen would provide intriguing upside at kick returner or punt returner, plus his speed as a gunner was on full display in the preseason. And Sirianni made sure to remind everyone just how dangerous Allen could potentially be during his Super Bowl media availability on Tuesday afternoon.

“He’s a special athlete, as we all know, so he has this unbelievable speed that really shined in the preseason game against Cleveland,” Sirianni told reporters on February 7. “and then he made a couple plays as a gunner. But, he’s really worked hard at it, and he’s this world-class athlete, that really wants to give football a shot and we’re not just keeping him around just because he’s been to the Olympics or anything like that.”

The praiseworthy adjectives were flowing freely out of Sirianni’s mouth when asked to assess Allen’s development from full-time sprinter to NFL receiver. Remember, the fastest man alive in the 110-meter hurdles hadn’t played organized football since 2016 before showing up at training camp. Sirianni likes what he has seen from Allen on the scout team this year.

“We’re keeping him around because we think he can develop into a good player, and he’s done that,” Sirianni said. “He’s continuing to develop himself week in and week out, he’s showing up on our scout team tape that we show to our guys, like, ‘Hey, watch Devon here do this.’ He’s won Scout Team Player of the Week a couple times.”

No Decision Made on Starting Punter, per Sirianni

Arryn Siposs still hasn’t been added to the active roster despite his 21-day practice window being opened up last week. The big-footed Aussie looked to be in front of fill-in punter Brett Kern on the depth chart at practices back in Philadelphia, but no final determination has been made.

According to Sirianni, Siposs has “looked good” in practice and the head coach wants to wait and see how he responds to another day of work.

“We’re still working through that,” Sirianni said. “We don’t have to make a decision now and you knew that when you asked that question. I wasn’t going to answer it, just like I did the last 18 weeks in Philadelphia so we’re still working through that. We’ll see how practice goes tomorrow [Wednesday]. He looked good.”

Main Message: Doubling Down on the Process

Sirianni has maintained a consistent message to his team throughout the 2022 campaign. He wants them to take it one day at a time while adhering to his five core principles: connecting, competition, accountability, intelligence, and fundamentals. He doubled down on those things when the Eagles got off to a 2-5 start in 2021.

And he did the same thing after the team endured back-to-back losses to Dallas and New Orleans in late December this year. Trust the process.

“One day at a time, one walk-through at a time, one meeting at a time,” Sirianni said. “That was the main message, doubling down on the things we knew were important, keep going to work, and I think another big thing was just not looking at, hey we’re 2-5 right now and we gotta climb that mountain right now, like you didn’t have to because if you look at it like that it can be overwhelming.”

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