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Sometimes forgotten, Wallace ready to ‘scratch and claw' for starting spot


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Sometimes forgotten, Wallace ready to ‘scratch and claw' for starting spot

K'Von Wallace is in the mix for a starting spot in the Eagles' secondary and he's ready to 'scratch and claw' for it

By Dave Zangaro  Published August 4, 2023

 

Through five practices, one of the biggest surprises at Eagles training camp has been all the first-team reps K’Von Wallace has been getting this summer.

It’s no surprise to Wallace.

"Every year is a competition,” the fourth-year safety said after Thursday’s practice. "Every year, you gotta prove and reprove yourself. Each and every year, I just try to elevate, try to get more playing time. 

"Definitely trying to get a starting role. If you’re not playing to be a starter, then what you out here for? I’m prepared and I’m ready and I’m willing to scratch and claw for that starting spot.

"And let these coaches know that I’m ready and they can trust me. Just trying to be a better me. I feel like ultimately, it’s all a mind game and ultimately I feel like I’m in the best space I can be in. My spirit is in line, my physical is in line. Just trying to show the team that I can be reliable out there.”

We knew the Eagles were going to have a training camp competition at the safety position, but Wallace’s name wasn’t really on anyone’s list of competitors. It seemed like some combination of Reed Blankenship, Terrell Edmunds and Sydney Brown would earn those roles.

Blankenship has gotten every first-team rep so far and the other guys have rotated next to him. One of those guys have been Wallace.

"You earn your first team reps, so K'Von has done a nice job,” head coach Nick Sirianni said on Thursday. "K'Von has done well for us on special teams these past two years, and now he's got an opportunity. There's some safety spots open, and he has an opportunity to be able to be in the mix.”

Wallace, who just turned 26 last month, was a fourth-round pick back in 2020 and he’s carved out a solid career. In three seasons in the NFL, he has played in 45 games with the Eagles and has started seven.

While Wallace started just one game in the 2022 season, he was a core special teams player for the Super Bowl squad and when he was called upon on defense, Wallace played well.

In 2022, Wallace was third on the team with 323 special teams snaps and had 6 special teams tackles. Even though he played just 164 snaps on defense, Wallace still managed to have 28 tackles, 2 pass breakups and a tackle for loss.

So far in camp this summer, Wallace has been playing well.

"Every year I feel like I have a shot,” he said. "It’s me vs. me out there. And I feel like my first few years I had a lot of learning to do and a lot of self-evaluation I had to do. I look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘It’s on me.’ I’ve done that this year and that’s why I feel like I’m out here playing my best ball, out here flying around the defense, even knowing other positions that will help me. Trying to be reliable for my defense and for my coach.”

Maybe there are some people who had higher expectations for Wallace’s NFL career. There were plenty of folks who thought he was a steal in the fourth-round after watching him play at Clemson. The reality is that he’s become a contributor, which is all you can really ask of a mid-round pick.

But maybe there’s more to Wallace. And maybe we’ll see it soon.

How does he view his career thus far?

"I’m still here. I’m still here, still getting better and I feel amazing,” Wallace answered. "I feel better than I felt my first three years. And I feel like I always had to take a backseat. My high school career was kind of the same. I didn’t start until my senior year. College, almost same thing. I didn’t start until my junior year. I always had to be patient, I always had to groom and blossom. But once that flower flowed, man, it looks beautiful.”

Wallace spent a good portion of his offseason back at Clemson, which, as a man of faith, he said was good for his spirit. He also invested in his body, spending money to take care of himself with everything from nutrition to cryotherapy to massages. He didn’t have any weight goals in mind but he did try to cut his percentage of body fat and has seen the results.

Even if Wallace doesn’t earn a starting spot this season, there’s a chance he could still see time on the field in Sean Desai’s defense. In recent practices, we’ve seen Desai implement some three-safety looks and Wallace on Thursday said he embraces the idea of being a versatile "Swiss-Army Knife of the defense.”

When asked to describe his defense this spring, Desai has talked about palpability. He wants people to be able to feel his defense.

That seems to fit Wallace’s aggressive, downhill style.

"I love this defense,” Wallace said. "I love what he got, the game plan for the safeties. I feel like we can really go out there and make some plays and really be impactful for this defense. I’m just ready to show my abilities, showcase why I’m here, why I’m still here. And showcase to Philly fans that they drafted me for a reason. Come sphere to win some games, go to the playoffs and win some Super Bowls. That’s what I’m here to do.”

https://www.nbcsportsphiladelphia.com/nfl/philadelphia-eagles/sometimes-forgotten-wallace-ready-to-scratch-and-claw-for-starting-spot/531051/

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I remember when Wallace was drafted and there was some hope that he may have been a good pick up. So far he’s struggled but maybe this year the Penny is starting to drop.

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Wallace makes the team - Justin Evans gets cut and Tristan McCullum gies to the practice squad. Next year McCullom will get his real opportunity. 

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