Christian Elliss, linebacker
Can you tell we're fascinated with this Christian Elliss fellow? Talk about diamonds in the rough! The Minnesota Vikings added him as an undrafted rookie free agent post-draft last season. He was released on August 23rd, two days after being fined $3,731 for an unnecessary roughness penalty during a preseason game. The Birds signed him to their practice squad on September 9th.
Elliss was released on on October 6th, re-signed to the practice squad five days later, and released by the Eagles for a second time on October 18th. A brief stint in San Francisco with the 49ers and another release led him back to the BIrds on November 24th. This time he'd battle his way onto the special teams unit and become one of Michael Clay's best players.
As it turns out, he has worked his butt off to become one of the top three linebackers in the core. He has also taken snaps with the first team.
Sydney Brown, safety
As camp began, Sydney Brown was tucked away with the third team. There's no shame in that. He's a rookie. Veteran NFL safeties are supposed to be better than he is. Don't sleep on the former Fighting Illini star though. He is expected to contribute as a rookie, and the light is beginning to come on.
Reed Blankenship hasn't really come off of the field when the first-team defense has gotten some work in. The other starting safety has seen guys rotate. Include Brown in that discussion as he has gotten first-team reps too.