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2020 Leaders of the Locker Room

7 August 2020 Eagles News


It’s no question that the absence of Malcolm Jenkins will be felt in one way or another. Whether its on the field or in the locker room, Jenkins will be missed. The 32 year old Safety wasn’t just the leader of the defense but also the heart and soul of the entire club.  Since his arrival to Philadelphia in 2014, Jenkins has been a model of hard work and consistency, he has been on the field for 6,818 of 6,909 possible defensive snaps – a whopping 98.7% .  It wasn’t just in the club house either, using his platform to speak out on racial injustice and also creating  ” The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation – to effectuate positive change in the lives of youth, particularly those in undeserved communities.”. What Malcolm brought you just can’t replace.

The Eagles didn’t just lose Jenkins this off-season, they also lost another fellow captain in Kamu Grugier-Hill. In four years with the eagles, Grugier-Hill served as the special teams captain twice. He has been described by coaches and teammates as a “very energetic and excitable guy,” that tends to bring a lot of energy and juice to the team.  The Linebacker did everything he could for the team while in Philly. Heck, he was even the back up kicker for the birds.

The losses of two team captains and other veteran leaders such as Darren Sproles and Nigel Bradham this off season are irreplaceable, yes. But who will be the ones to step into these leadership roles? NFL rules state that teams can have up to 6 captains, instead the birds usually hold a team wide vote for only 5  captains, (2 offensive captains, 2 defensive captains and 1 special teams captain.) and coach Doug Pederson and his coaching staff then routinely select a 6th captain for every game . So, who will the Eagles vote this year?  Here’s my guess.

 

Carson Wentz

Typically the Quarterback is labeled the leader. Carson Wentz has been proving he is just that, earning the right to be a full-time captain since his sophomore season and now that Jenkins is gone, Wentz is also the longest tenured captain on the team. If voted this season he will receive a gold captain patch which indicates four consecutive years as a captain with the same organization. It doesn’t seem like much, but it must feel good considering it was just last season when reports came out of an unnamed Eagles player criticizing his “lack of leadership and his selfishness.” But let’s not forget that most of Wentz teammates had his back which means something to how accurate those statements must have been, many of which calling it “Fake news.”. This off-season alone Carson is doing so much to prove that he is not only a leader of this team but also in the community, using his platform as a Quarterback in the NFL to not only speak out about topics like the George Floyd Murder, racism and equality but to also listen and learn. Wentz has also been using his charity the “AO1 foundation,” (Audience of one foundation.) to supply frontline workers and families effected by Covid-19 with boxes of groceries and free meals. Carson is class act and its near impossible that he doesn’t enter the season with that golden “C” … Even with Jalen Hurts on the roster.

 

Jason Kelce

What can’t be said about this guy?  After that legendary speech during the Eagles super bowl parade, it might actually be illegal to take away that “C”  from him… But why would you want to? Kelce the three time all pro has previously came out and said “I think as a leader, you just take accountability, I think that’s what leadership is. Leadership is taking accountability yourself and holding others to the same standard, regardless of what’s going on. I just think that weak leaders stop doing that and they start pointing fingers when times get tough. Strong leaders hold strong, they remain accountable, they try to lift others up, they try to take things off other people’s shoulders, put more on theirs. That’s what a good leader is. That’s what I’m all about.”. It is safe to say that Kelce will be returning as a offensive captain again this upcoming season.

 

Fletcher Cox

Malcolm Jenkins may have been the heart of the team but don’t get it twisted, this is Fletcher’s defense, not only is he the best player we have on the defensive side of the ball but is also a clear leader even though he may not always do it with his words. “I like to lead by example, just show guys that I’m here if you need me” Cox had previously said when asked about leadership. At the beginning of June Fletcher hosted around a dozen members of the Eagles D-Line group at his ranch in Texas for workouts and bonding. Pretty clear he see’s himself as a leader in that locker room.

 

Brandon Graham

Brandon Graham is the second longest tenured Eagle on the roster. He also has experience wearing that captain’s patch in Philadelphia, last wearing it in 2017, our Super-Bowl season. Even when he is not wearing it, he still shows his leadership qualities week in and week out. The 32 year old is the definition of the phrase “Team player.” . He’s the most positive in that locker room, always talking, laughing, and smiling bringing a contagious energy and positivity to not only just the defense but the entire team. Without Malcolm Jenkins, Graham more then anybody will need to step up the most as a leader, which hopefully shouldn’t be hard for the vet.

Duke Riley

Last season the Eagles acquired Riley in a trade with the Falcons just prior to week 5. Within two months of being in the city he made an immediate impact on special teams and was named special teams captain. During a press conference Friday, Philadelphia’s special teams coordinator Dave Fipp was asked about Duke Riley and stated that “His demeanor and energy is infectious and that’s something he really brought to the room- I mean he’s kind of a leader, he’s a natural get in front guy, players rally around him. They enjoy him not only on the field but off the field.”. In all likelihood it is very doubtful that things change, and Riley isn’t wearing a “C” again this upcoming season.

 

 

Photo Credits: NBC Sports