Dean played 24 snaps in his first game with the Eagles, all in the first half. The rookie led the Eagles with five tackles when he departed, which didn’t paint the whole picture on how well he performed. A terror against the run, Dean was on the field for eight run-designed plays — and came away with four tackles.
If Dean wanted to make sure he was noticed for his on-field play, he aced that exam.
“He flies around and he’s always alert so just knowing him and knowing his work ethic and knowing how hard he works,” said Eagles defensive tackle Jordan Davis, who used his massive frame to set up Dean finishing the play. “I think he’s going to be something special.”
Dean only rushed the passer on two snaps and was only targeted once (a completion for seven yards), but his performance against the run is why the Eagles drafted him in the first place. Sure to be a first round pick heading into April’s draft, reports of a pectoral injury caused the Eagles — and 31 other teams — to pass on him twice. The Eagles couldn’t pass on Dean in the third round — and found no pectoral muscle issues either.
That’s all in the past now. Dean is focused on the present, trying to earn a starting linebacker job come Week 1. In order to increase his chances of doing so, Dean taught himself a new aspect of the game that he didn’t rely on much at Georgia.
“I’ve improved mostly on becoming more personable,” Dean said. “That’s more an off the field thing, being able to talk to people, being more personable to people, being able to open up and see different people’s perspective on things.
“I’m from down South, stayed down South to play (college) football, and now I’m up North and meeting people. Of course I played college football with all different types of people, but now there are more people from different areas. Northern people sometimes have a different way of thinking or different ideas that I probably have never heard of.
“Just seeing different things, I think as a person, it has just opened me up.”
These are the qualities what made Dean so highly regarded coming out of Georgia. The Eagles have high hopes for Dean, who continues to show that second team stint won’t last long.
“It’s important as a leader to be able to figure out people. It’s important to be able to talk to people and understand why they’re doing certain things,” Dean said. “Right now I’m not leading on the team, but I’m working my way up, trying to learn everything I can, and take everything day by day.”