Everyone in Philadelphia keeps screaming for an upgrade at the safety position. The Eagles are arguably one All-Pro player away from a dominant, lockdown defense.
The organization feels they already have that guy. He wears No. 22. He owns a new gym in California. He’s been running with the first-team defense since camp opened. His name is Marcus Epps, and he’s hungry.
“They kind of always made it clear to me that I’m going to have an opportunty to compete and that’s all that it’s ever been, so that’s where my focus is,” Epps told reporters. “I know I have to earn it, but I’m just glad that I’m having the opportunity to come out here and compete every day.”
Epps has been taking advantage of every single rep during the first few days of summer practices. He recorded an interception off Jalen Hurts on Day 1, undercutting Dallas Goedert on a play immediately met with hooting and hollering from his defensive teammates.
Epps, coming off a breakout 2021 campaign where he saw 48% of the snaps, is the people’s champion. And the organization’s poster boy for hard work. He learned on the job last season.
“I know what to expect, the game has kind of slowed down for me,” Epps said. “So I’m kind of not swimming out there, trying to, thinking about what my assignment is. Now I already know what that is, so now I’m thinknig more about what the offense is going to run, situations, things like that. So I just feel a lot more comfortable out there.”
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Jonathan Gannon: ‘He Has All the Tools’
Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon is sticking to his guns. He said Epps was ready to start when he met with reporters at OTAs in May; he’s doubling down on that faith at camp in late July.
“The first thing I look for in a safety is reliability. He’s very reliable, smart, tough, and he has got a very unique skillset that you need, in my opinion, to play safety in the NFL today.
“In 2022, the safety position looks different than when I got in the league in 2007. You have to be able to cover, you have to be able to tackle, you have to have ball skills, you have to play zone, you have to process. That’s a thinking position. He has all those tools.”
Safety Competition Key Battle to Watch
Fans may want to see a trade for disgruntled All-Pro Jessie Bates. Don’t hold your breath. The Eagles signed Jaquiski Tartt to strengthen the room, adding another veteran safety alongside Anthony Harris to compete with Epps.
K’Von Wallace and Andre Chachere have also been flying around at camp. It’s getting pretty crowded at the position, yet Epps remains the favorite to win the job.
“I don’t really think that way. I just stay grounded and come to work each day,” Epps said. “I don’t really try to concern myself with things I can’t control and I don’t really try to concern myself with the future. I just focus on trying to get better every day.”