Saturday, August 13, 2022

Eagles’ Marcus Epps becoming a favorite to win a starting safety job, yet stays hungry to earn his keep

PHILADELPHIA — Marcus Epps has come a long way from the player that gave up a 36-yard reception to DK Metcalf that ended the Philadelphia Eagles season in the wild card round three seasons ago. Epps was just a rookie safety, thrust into the fire into single coverage against one of the best young talents in the league. 

If the Eagles would have written Epps off, it would have been understandable. Instead, they saw something in the former day three pick that was worth keeping him around. The fruits of the Eagles’ labor may pay off this summer, as Epps is getting the opportunity to earn a starting safety spot in Jonathan Gannon’s defense. 

He’s taking advantage of said opportunity. 

“All you gotta do is put on the film from last year. Marcus earned his keep,” Eagles defensive passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson said. “He battled his a– off. He was tough, he was physical, he was was where he was supposed to be and made the plays he was supposed to make. You create roles for guys that deserve roles. He played his role outstanding last year.

“He’s not gonna waiver. He’s gonna take the challenge and he’s gonna step to the plate.”

Epps started three games for the Eagles last season and finished with a career-high 62 tackles with five passes defended and an interception. A former sixth-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2019, Epps was claimed off waivers by the Eagles in November of his rookie season and has worked his way up the depth chart ever since. 

Over the past two seasons, quarterbacks have targeted Epps as the primary defender 44 times. Epps has recorded three interceptions and has given up only one touchdown, allowing a 56.3 passer rating in coverage — this in spite of allowing a 75% completion rate. 

“I always believed in Epps since he got here,” Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox said. “Tremendous player, smart. Me and him sit right next to each other in the film room (and) are always picking each other’s minds for the most part. He’s just a very smart player, very athletic. 

“I’m excited to see what he’s doing this year. He’s given an opportunity and right now he’s doing a really good job with it.” 

Epps will have to battle for that spot, as the Eagles also have veterans Anthony Harris and Jaquiski Tartt competing for safety spots. The Eagles have depth at safety regardless, yet want to see Epps take the reins as a starter. 

Knowing what’s at stake, Epps isn’t wavering. 

“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.

“They made it clear to me I had the opportunity to compete. I haven’t arrived my any means. I still got a lot to learn.” 

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