Philadelphia Eagles: Stock Up, Stock Down On Defense

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Sep 21, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans (59) celebrates a defensive stop on third down against the Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Redskins, 37-34. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Stock Up: DeMeco Ryans, Inside Linebacker

It came as a surprise to many when it was announced that the Eagles extended inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans’ contract by a year. Most people were expecting the team to cut him, especially following a major injury and his age.

But it’s clear that Kelly views Ryans as the captain of the defense, referring to him as “Mufasa” at times. Kelly values players that have a high character and are leaders, clearly Ryans checks both of those boxes. He may not be the most talented player, but he’s “been around the block” and has quite a bit of experience among a relatively young group of linebackers.

Although the team traded for Alonso, signed linebacker Brad Jones and still have rising star Mychal Kendricks under contract, Ryans’ stock is clearly on the rise, even if his level of play is declining. He’s the heart and soul of the Eagles’ defense and Kelly has taken notice. Whether Ryans is starting alongside Alonso or Kendricks, or on the bench, he’ll be making an impact with his voice and experience both on and off the field in 2015.

Next: Stock Down: Mychal Kendricks, Inside Linebacker