Dallas Reynolds played more football in one afternoon than he had the previous three years combined. And he’ll get plenty more playing time in the upcoming weeks.
Reynolds is the Eagles’ backup center who became their starting center when Jason Kelce went down with a knee injury in Sunday’s 24-23 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Kelce will have reconstructive surgery and be out for the rest of the season, which means, for better or worse, Reynolds will be the man in the middle of the Eagles’ offense for the foreseeable future.
That’s quite a change from his immediate past. Before Sunday, Reynolds had played in just one game in his three-plus years with the Eagles, which were mostly spent on the practice squad. He barely beat out Jason Vandervelde for a spot on the active roster this season and now he’ll be in the starting lineup on Sunday at Arizona.
“Those are the good stories in the game,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “He has an opportunity now and he’s going to make sure he handles that the right way and works hard – you don’t forget what got you there.”
Reynolds said he remembers everything, including the three seasons of practicing every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and never playing on Sunday.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” Reynolds said. “After a few years on the practice squad and now to be active and have a chance to play and start – I’m excited about the opportunity.”
It’s more than an opportunity – in one of the most competitive of sports, Reynolds has no competition for the starting job that was handed to him even though he really didn’t do anything to deserve it, other than survive the final cut.
Of course, that in itself is an accomplishment, especially for somebody who wasn’t even drafted and was lucky just to be signed to somebody’s practice squad. But don’t think for a second the fact that both Reynolds and Reid are BYU men didn’t factor into that, or that Reid and Reynold’s father are longtime friends, which also resulted in Reynolds’ younger brother, Matt, getting signed to the Eagles practice squad this year. Reynolds earned everything he’s gotten since then, but that fraternal connection helped him get started.
It also didn’t hurt that Reynolds had already proven his versatility – he played all five line positions in college. And even though he joined the Eagles primarily as a guard, he also worked at center on the scout team and that eventually helped him earn a roster spot and then a starting spot.
Reid said Reynolds even took over Kelce’s role of calling blocking assignments for the rest of the offensive line, an often-overlooked part of the center’s job and an intimidating one for a player with almost no experience doing it.
“He did everything that Jason was doing with the calls,” Reid said. “He’s a smart kid and he was able to handle all of that.”
Brains are nice, but it also takes brawn to play in the NFL and Reid said that’s the biggest difference in Reynolds since the Eagles signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Brigham Young – Reid’s alma mater – in 2009.
“He worked his tail off here and you saw the transformation in his body strength and quickness,” Reid said. “He was always a good athlete, but he needed to get stronger and that’s what he did. He lived in the weight room and got to where he needs to be to compete at this level.”
“He had a big challenge on Sunday, literally and figuratively,” Reid added, referring to Ravens defensive tackles Terrence Cody and Ma’ ake Kemoeatu. “He had a couple big men over him and he held his own. He played good, solid football.”
And now he is, in more ways than one, the center of attention on the Eagles’ offense, playing with high-powered stars like Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson. Patience paid off for Dallas Reynolds and now we’ll see if it pays off for the Eagles, as well.
Contact Kevin Noonan at firstname.lastname@example.org.