Rodney McLeod missed the majority of the 2018 season with a torn MCL suffered in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts, but the Eagles starting free safety says he’ll be ready for Week 1 of the 2019 season. McLeod won’t be back in time for OTAs to start next month, as he will still be rehabbing the knee.
“I’m counting down the days until this is over and I’m back on the field with my teammates,” McLeod told Les Bowen.
McLeod hopes to be ready by training camp, but won’t guarantee anything. This is unfamiliar territory for McLeod, who has missed just two games in the previous six seasons prior to last year.
McLeod played in just three games for the Eagles before going on injured reserve with a torn MCL. He finished with 10 tackles and four passes defensed in five targets.
This comes after two solid seasons in Philadelphia which McLeod played 2,062 snaps, compiling 130 tackles and six interceptions in 30 games, with 13 passes defensed. McLeod was one of the best coverage safeties in football in 2016 as opposing quarterbacks had a 55.0 passer rating when targeting him.
The Eagles did sign insurance for McLeod in Andrew Sendejo, who will be the No. 3 safety when McLeod is healthy.
Sendejo was one of the best coverage safeties in the NFL in 2017 as opposing quarterbacks had just a 59.8 passer rating when targeting him. He allowed 17 catches for 257 yards and had three interceptions on 29 targets. The season prior, opposing quarterbacks had a 79.6 passer rating when targeting Sendejo, who allowed 12 catches for 214 yards on 19 targets. Sendejo had two interceptions that season.
The Eagles are getting a bargain in adding Sendejo, who will play the Corey Graham role as the No. 3 safety the team desperately needed in 2018. Graham played 655 defensive snaps (63.10 percent) and finished with 56 tackles, five pass deflections and an interception. Opposing quarterbacks had a 78.4 passer rating when targeting the 33-year old Graham, who allowed 12 catches for 70 yards this season.
Sendejo will provide veteran depth at safety for the Eagles, who have Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod locked in as starters. The Eagles typically prefer to play five defensive backs on the field, specifically when they move Jenkins down in the box as a linebacker. Sendejo can play up top with McLeod or play the Jenkins role at linebacker, giving the Eagles an extra option at defensive back to use in nickel and dime packages.
Graham would move down to cornerback in those packages at that time, which the Eagles won’t need to do with Sendejo (who is basically an extra linebacker). The Eagles have plenty of cornerbacks that can line up in off coverage, allowing Sendejo to move freely up top or go down in the box and play linebacker.
Until McLeod is healthy, Sendejo will fill his role…but the Eagles certainly have insurance at the safety position heading into 2019.