Marcus Epps lives his life by a simple mantra: prove and re-prove yourself. It’s something the Philadelphia Eagles’ coaching staff has been preaching to him throughout the offseason. And it’s a message that the 26-year-old safety has been abiding by since walking on to the University of Wyoming football team in 2014.
Epps enters the 2022 campaign as the odds-on starter next to Anthony Harris. He saw action in 16 games last season while notching 62 tackles and one interception on 505 defensive snaps. His play was good enough for the Eagles to be less aggressive than predicted at the safety spot in free agency.
They could still make a trade before training camp — All-Pro Jessie Bates is sitting out there — but it looks like Epps is the guy. And he’s confident and ready to take the reins.
“Definitely. The coaches, they’ve expressed confidence in me; obviously, I have a lot of confidence in myself,” Epps told reporters. “But, you know, it’s just like any other year, I still have to come in and prove it. I still have a lot to prove so I’m just focused on taking everything one day at a time, trying to continue to get better every single day. There’s still a long time until the season.”
While No. 22 sits atop the depth chart right now, he’ll have to withstand a charge from third-year safety K’Von Wallace this summer. Former Alabama standout Jared Mayden and veteran Andre Chachere could also push him there.
“I try to focus on things I can control,” Epps said. “My approach every offseason is pretty much the same, I try to work harder than I did the year before. I’m never someone who gets complacent or gets down on myself. I’m just going to keep working the way I’ve always worked my whole life, and keep pushing.”
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Not Trying to Fill Rodney McLeod’s Shoes
A void at the safety position was created when Rodney McLeod left for Indianapolis in free agency. The Eagles didn’t make their long-time defensive leader a competitive offer so Epps kind of knew what was expected. But don’t think for one second that the California native is trying to be McLeod. No, sir.
“I don’t look at like I have to fill anybody’s shoes,” Epps said. “Rodney’s in his own lane — and he was a great player, great leader, a great teammate for this organization for a while, so I’m not taking the approach of I have to fill anybody’s shoes or be anybody else. I’m just being myself day in and day out.”
His defensive teammates are ecstatic to see Epps finally get his opportunity. They have seen the hard work he puts in every day, hopefully, the world gets to see the same thing.
“It’s his time to shine,” Avonte Maddox said. “Everyone gets their time, their opportunity. It’s sitting there on his plate, and hopefully, he runs away with it.”
Criticism Won’t Bother New Starter
There’s bound to be criticism hurled at Epps as he goes from second-stringer to lead communicator in the secondary. He did major in communications at Wyoming, so that should help smooth the transition. He also has legitimate NFL experience having played 48 games over his four-year career. He was a sixth-round pick (No. 191 overall) of the Minnesota Vikings in the 2019 draft.
“Prove and reprove yourself, that’s what the coaches have been saying,” Epps said. “I always have that chip on my shoulder, and always feel like I have to prove myself and then reprove myself.”
Epps is also open to hard coaching, including harsh criticism. He welcomes it as he strives to get 1-percent better every day.
“Not taking their criticism personal but taking it to heart,” Epps said. “Just trying every day, keep trying every day to find something I can get better at.”