How a forced interception has sent one Eagles linebacker on the road to redemption

Amidst the Eagles linebacker headlines this season, one name has fallen under the radar. After a week two injury has sidelined Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks spending length amount of times in the sidelines, the media has mainly focused on the emergence of Jordan Hicks. But there’s one name in the supporting cast who’s received next to no attention in what could be a revival story.

Marcus Smith has had a very slow start to his Eagles career. After being drafted in the first round last year, he only viewed the field from the sidelines. As if things couldn’t be slowed any more, Smith sustained a hamstring injury that not only damaged his chances of making the field but also kept him sidelined during Summer training camp.

However after a change to the outside and a recent vacancy opening, Smith played 22 snaps against the Saints and finally began to show shades of the talent we all knew he could be. The Marcus Smith who proved to be a defensive terror Louisville with 14.5 sacks in a single season, leading the team.

Perhaps it was the recent change that sparked an improvement, after all..Smith had a lot of experience at DE before playing on the inside for Philadelphia. Smith had largely been forgotten about until last week..when something completely unexpected happened.

Smith got his first Quarterback hit in the NFL against one of the NFL’s elite, Drew Brees. It wasn’t the hit that was impressive, but what the hit started. Marcus Smith’s impact forced the Superbowl winner into a poor throw that was to be intercepted by Walter Thurmond.

With the linebacker’s in Philadelphia constantly performing, this season was already set to be do or die for Marcus Smith and the odds have only increased. But the Louisville standout is beginning to follow the same path as another Eagles linebacker..Brandon Graham.

The Eagles took Graham in the first round back in 2010 but only combined for 13 tackles in as many appearances in his rookie season before only starting three games the year after. A career season last year silenced the doubters and saw a somewhat positive reaction when he stepped up to fill the boots that Trent Cole left.

The team have a habit of trying to transform career’s and it could be argued that Smith never got his chance to shine, he may not have got 6 sacks in a game or recovered a fumble..he may not have had a career high in tackles..but Marcus Smith is on the right path.

A career high snap count marked his second appearance for the birds this season and we may well see him play against the Giants on Monday night. For the first time in his NFL career, Smith has confidence that he can get the job done. There’s no lingering thoughts or self-doubt, no media breathing down his neck and no fear about losing the locker room.

He’s a long way from getting where he wants to be, but the first steps into saving an NFL Career may have been taken last week. With the support of the locker room and the two biggest names at the position still sidelined, the stage is set for Marcus Smith and after the 23 year old has had his first taste of what it’s like to hit a Quarterback at the NFL level..he may finally be moving in the right direction.

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