Jump to content

Is Justin Evans elbowing his way into starting safety battle?


Recommended Posts

Is Justin Evans elbowing his way into starting safety battle?

After what seemed like a slow start to training camp is veteran Justin Evans competing for a starting gig?

By Reuben Frank, Eagles Insider  Published August 20, 2023


A funny thing happened Saturday in that competition between Terrell Edmunds, Sydney Brown and K’Von Wallace for the Eagles’ second starting safety job.

Justin Evans happened.

Evans, who’s been an afterthought in this critical position battle, got the lion’s share of 1st-team reps at practice Saturday, and with just three weeks to go before opening day, it was certainly interesting to see the 27-year-old Evans out there with Reed Blankenship.

How significant is it?

If the Eagles had settled by now on Edmunds, Jones or Wallace, they wouldn’t be rotating Evans in there with the starting defense. Evans may still be a longshot, but he’s played well in both preseason games – better than he’s performed in practice.

And there’s a reason for that.

Some guys are just gamers. Evans says he’s one of them.

"I mean, it's just game day,” he said after practice Saturday. "That's what we do it for. We're here to get better at practice, but the game is the game. It's just where you really want to make the plays at.

"Here (at practice) you wanna get all your technicalities intact and show it off game day. That's what I try to do.”

Evans is an interesting story. He started 21 games for the Buccaneers in 2017 and 2018 and had four interceptions over those two seasons. 

He then missed all of 2019 and 2020 after suffering an Achilles injury at practice just before the 2019 season began. He was out of football in 2021 and then spent last year with the Saints and after a three-year layoff played in 15 games, starting four.

The Eagles signed him in March as a free agent, and although he’s had a quiet training camp, he’s hard to miss on game day. He made a couple huge hits in the Ravens preseason game and contributed four tackles and a tackle for loss in just 21 snaps Thursday night against the Browns.

Blankenship said he’s seen a different Evans in the two preseason games than so far at practice.

 "Yeah, because sometimes you’ve got to hold back in practice,” he said. "You know, you don't want to kill somebody, hit them too hard. But he's flying around in the games. You can definitely see that. So that's what I love about him.”

Evans, the Bucs’ 2nd-round pick back in 2017, is still on the outside looking in. Edmunds and Brown still seem most likely to win that starting safety spot, and Wallace is having a good summer too. But when you’re getting 1st-team reps in late August, you’re doing something right.

Defensive coordinator Sean Desai loves looking at different guys in different combinations in different situations, so that could be a part of this. But maybe Evans has elbowed his way into that safety competition.

"Just getting more in tune, getting more reps, just getting a better feel for everything,” Evans said. "Confidence is the key, but I think I've always had that. I'm just filling my role out a little more now.

"The more reps you get, the more comfortable you're going to get. The more time you spend watching film, being around the guys, being in the building, you’re just going to get more comfortable. That's just what it is.”

Edmunds has the advantage of experience. He’s started 75 games and he’s only 26. Brown has the advantage of being a rookie 3rd-round pick who's also getting 1st-team reps. And Wallace has the advantage of his fourth year with the Eagles and the comfort level of being here since Doug Pederson’s final season.


He’s just enjoying the competition with his teammates and with himself.

"For sure. I mean, that's what we are,” he said. "That's how we all got here, because of the competition, bringing out the best in everybody. 

"When you get around people, you see somebody make a play, you just want to make a play. Not even because it's like, ‘Oh I’ve got to do that to stand out.’ It's just what it is. Somebody make a play, ‘Oh, now I’ve got to make a play, oh, I want to make a play.’ 

"I think it's more that level than just, ‘I'm trying to beat you at your spot.’ I'm just trying to get better for myself.”


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...