Imagine if you will the Eagles locker room. As the NFL regular season nears, the temporary lockers at NovaCare Complex to accommodate the overflow of a training camp roster are being removed and now resembles more of the “normalcy” to accommodate a 53-man roster.
The final roster cut-down weekend removed 18 hopeful players including DT Cedric Thornton. Poor Thornton made it safely through Saturday’s deletions only to get the unwanted phone call on Sunday. Even a Monday addition to the practice squad for Thornton was no consolation.
Each sad story and empty locker offers a corollary or a counterbalance somewhere in the room. Daniel Te’O-Nesheim doesn’t make it but Phillip Hunt begins life anew. Mike McGlynn the veteran supersub departs, making way for rookie Jason Kelce. Then there remains the case of Kyle DeVan, a veteran guard whose availability effectively ended Thornton’s brief reprieve.
DeVan, entering his third NFL season, was cut by Indianapolis on Saturday. Eagles offensive line coach Howard Mudd knows all too well what kind of talent DeVan has. A little after noon on Sunday, DeVan was offered a contract by the Eagles. By early evening he was on a plane to Philadelphia, and at 6:30 a.m. Monday he walked into the NovaCare Complex as the newest member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I thought I was part of the team in Indianapolis,” DeVan said. “You kind of sit around for a couple of hours stunned and then you say, ‘I got to move on. I got to find another team. I got to find a job.’ It was a tough time, but I’m happy to be here in Philadelphia.”
DeVan is a serious competition for playing time. He worked under offensive line coach Howard Mudd with the Colts in 2009 and knows Mudd’s quirky system of blocking techniques and his overall scheme. There is little question DeVan is here because Mudd knows what he can give the Eagles, and because there is still some uncertainty about the starters currently in place.
Veteran Evan Mathis is the left guard, and he has been solid enough that the Eagles moved Todd Herremans from that position to plug a vast emptiness where the right tackle position used to be. At right guard, rookie Danny Watkins is being asked to start, but hasn’t inspired much confidence in preseason. DeVan might be merely an insurance policy, or he could work himself into the regular rotation ahead of the first round pick. Either way, hooking on at the last moment in the NFL is nothing new for DeVan.
DeVan was undrafted out of Oregon State, had been cut once by the Redskins and three times by the Jets without ever making it into uniform. He was a substitute teacher in Vacaville, CA before hooking on with the Boise Burn of the “AF2 Arena Football League” playing for $250 per game if the team won and $200 if the team lost. In April 2009 DeVan had a tryout with the Colts, where Mudd liked what he saw – a tough, agile guard who fit the team’s aggressive style on the offensive line. DeVan beat out Mike Pollak (a former second-round pick) for the right guard job. Less than 10 months after his last substitute-teaching gig, DeVan was playing in the Super Bowl. Now 2-1/2 years later he begins a new chapter in his career. DeVan practiced Monday with the second-string scout team. He says that his only goals are to learn the Eagles playbook and make himself part of this team.
By some strange twist of either fate or karma, DeVan landed the locker next to defensive tackle Trevor Laws, against whom he wrestled a landmark heavyweight match in high school, the actual outcome of which the two men have debated for more than eight years. There is debate between the two about the 2003 Minnesota state high school wrestling match as the stories differ. Laws had been ranked #1 while DeVan was fourth and the clash of titans took place in Minnesota. They agree upon that much! Maybe they can finally get this sorted out, now that their lockers are adjacent. Perhaps even a spontaneous rematch will occur some afternoon after banging heads during practice.
Odds are this completes and finalizes the Eagles roster until some type of occurrence (injury or trade) creates the need for more change. DeVan is the final addition, not a veteran linebacker, veteran QB or veteran special teams player. This Eagles team prepares for the St. Louis Rams after what seemed like an endless offseason ruled by lockout, an endless wait and then virtual free agent frenzy. From all that time and money and patience results the 2011 version of the Philadelphia Eagles… they are still wearing midnight green but you may need to familiarize yourself with the new crop of Eagles in the nest.
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org