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Young Eagles Players May Get More Playing Time in the Future

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PHILADELPHIA – For the first time this season, Kelee Ringo and Nolan Smith played more defensive snaps than special teams snaps.

Is it a trend for the Philadelphia Eagles rookies, or were they just pressed into action during their team’s 33-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 14?

“I think those guys have done a good job through practice in earning some of those spots,” said defensive coordinator Sean Desai. “As we talk about it every week, in terms of our rotations and plans, those guys are certainly in the conversation to help us as we move forward.”

Moving forward, the Eagles have four games remaining in the regular season then whatever the playoffs hold, assuming they make the playoffs. It’s a safe bet, needing only one win, and that could happen Monday night in Seattle against the Seahawks.

Ringo got 22 defensive vs. 21 on special teams, where he has made his mark so far this year. Ringo, who the Eagles traded up to select with the third overall pick in the fourth round this past April, is tied for second on the team in special teams tackles with Smith, each of whom has four.

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Kelee Ringo (37) tackles Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Breshad Perriman (9) after his catch during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field.© Bill Streicher&comma, USA TODAY

He made one tackle against the Cowboys but also committed two penalties on the same play trying to guard CeeDee Lamb.

“I’m nowhere where I want to be and I’m glad to have the opportunity to go out there with these guys and showcase my talents and what I’ve been working on for the past couple months,” he said on Thursday as the team began preparing for the Seahawks, who, at 6-7, are desperate for a win to keep their postseason hopes alive.

Until last Sunday, Ringo had played only one defensive snap all season, and that was against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2.

The cornerback said he likes watching tape of veteran teammate James Bradberry.

“I feel like he simplifies the game so much,” Ringo said. “I feel like he makes hard things easy and I feel like that with my stature and my athletic ability the sky’s the limit for me.”

Smith, who was the second of the Eagles’ two first-round picks last spring at No. 30 overall, has played 10 percent of the defensive snaps, in what had been a very limited role until last week when he got 21 to 15 on special teams.

“As far as the scheme and knowing NFL football, and just always studying and learning different things, I feel like I’ve come so far, just because I feel better and feel like I know more,” he said on Thursday. “It’s not just that I know more, it’s just I know what I’m looking for. Most people don’t even know what they’re looking for when they first get in here, and I just feel like you should know what you’re looking for. And I think that helps me.”

Smith, who had his first NFL sack – and to this point, his only career sack – against the Miami Dolphins and Tua Tagovailoa, said he has become much better at studying film, knowing what he’s looking for, and taking better notes in meetings.

“I think you see some quickness and speed from both of them,” said Desai. “Some switch at the point of attack, and the ability for Kelee to get out there and challenge and do some things there, which was nice. Try to use his length to his advantage.

“And then Nolan has been physical at the point of attack, and you see his athleticism as well. So I think those guys are growing and learning the defense. They keep getting better, and the coaches are doing a good job developing them.”

Related: Eagles’ Leaky Pass Defense Faces Challenge from Seahawks WRs

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