Chaney out to prove he deserves first-team spot
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Jamar Chaney has been benched and moved and promoted and demoted enough times to know not to make too much of this.
Still, running with the ones is a lot nicer than running with the twos.
Chaney got bumped up to the first nickel at practice on Thursday, replacing – at least for the time being – Brian Rolle. As of now, Chaney and DeMeco Ryans are the two linebackers in first nickel.
Rolle continues in base defense at weak-side linebacker, with Chaney, his close friend, backing him up.
“I just go out there and do my job,” Chaney said after Thursday’s walkthrough. “I guess it is my job to lose. One thing about them, they’re not going to waste reps. So my job is to go out ... and make the decision hard to not have me on that field.”
Chaney started all 16 games last year, first at the SAM and then for most of the season at the middle.
The Eagles’ linebackers have been in flux for years, so Chaney knows not to put too much stock on a depth chart move in early August.
“I just go out there and practice as hard as I can and I leave that up to the coaches,” he said. “When you’re in training camp, you don’t need to be focused on any of that. They’re going to do what they need to do, they’re going to put the best players out there, so your job is to go out there, proving yourself and just going out there and having fun.”
Chaney said all the reps he’s gotten with the second defense – which generally faces the first offense – probably helped him. Facing guys like LeSean McCoy, Jason Avant and other offensive starters gave him a chance to shine.
“I was having fun out there,” he said. “Going against the first-team offense, I was looking at it as a blessing in disguise. I get to go against all-pros at a lot of different positions in practice every day, full speed, so it’ll make me better.”
It seems like Chaney has been around forever, but he’s only in his third year, and still only 25 years old. He was fairly productive a year ago, with a team-high 104 tackles, three interceptions and a sack.
He still got demoted, as the Eagles reshaped their disappointing linebacking corps around Mychal Kendricks, Ryans and Rolle, but he’s not content as a backup.
“I started every game last year, I had a lot of competition against great quarterbacks and whatnot, and I think I’m only going to get better, especially with the motivation I’ve got to be a good player,” he said. “I think that’s what you gain anytime I get out there with me and DeMeco or whoever I’m out there with, building that chemistry and being good with that.”
Playing nickel means mainly covering backs out of the backfield, and Chaney said he’s improved a lot in that area thanks to practicing constantly against McCoy and Dion Lewis.
“Passing-wise, it doesn’t get any better than going against those two guys live, when you got them 1 on 1” he said. “Getting as many reps as you can against them, I think it builds your confidence going into a game because there’s only a couple backs that can do what they do.
“You’ve got [Darren] Sproles [of the Saints] and and Reggie Bush [of the Dolphins], they’re the only that ones off the top of my head that can do what they do. When you’re able to go against Dion and McCoy every day in practice, [that’s] got to be able to build your confidence a little bit.”E-mail Reuben Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org