Sunday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers was a wild one from start to finish. Players like Jalen Hurts, Christian Watson, Jordan Love and even Reed Blankenship shined in the Sunday Night Football matchup. Along with being high-scoring and unpredictable, the matchup was also very physical, as both teams left with some big injuries.
Perhaps the biggest one for the Eagles was when C.J. Gardner-Johnson had to exit the game with what was originally called a rib injury. Further testing has gone on to identify the ailment as a kidney laceration. There is not a definitive timetable for the safety, but he is expected to come back at some point later this season.
After Gardner-Johnson was carted off the field, the Eagles’ replacement was undrafted free agent, Reed Blankenship. The unheralded rookie from Middle Tennessee State had only played in 4 of the 10 games up to that point.
With Gardner-Johnson playing at such a high level this season, the safety position looked like it was about to become an area of weakness in his absence, but Blankenship to his credit was able to make some impact plays.
Cue in the rookie? Reed Blankenship?
Early in the second quarter was where Reed Blankenship made his name known to all Eagles fans, with a fantastic interception off of Aaron Rodgers. In real-time, it was shocking to watch this young player, in his first extended period of playing time, make a play on the ball that many veterans can’t make.
Reed Blankenship essentially baited Rodgers to pass to tight end Robert Tonyan by dropping back in coverage out of eyesight, and then jumping the receiver’s route before he got to his spot. It looked like Blankenship was shot out of a cannon, as he became the first undrafted free agent to ever pick off Aaron Rodgers, which is significant considering he barely throws any. It also ended a promising drive for Green Bay and for the time being took points off the board.
In the second half, Reed Blankenship also got into the action with a few nice stops on the Packers running backs. He was able to show good east-to-west quickness in beating Aaron Jones to the edge and pushing him out of bounds for a minimal gain.
He also showcased more of his developing football IQ and hustle, as he came up from the backfield on a run to AJ Dillion and hustled to push the bruising back out of bounds for a short gain when Dillion could have turned it upfield.
Reed Blankenship was not close to being perfect on Sunday. He got beat by Christian Watson for a long touchdown when Jordan Love came into the game, as well as getting called for a helmet-to-helmet and being a little too aggressive at times. However, I think that he showed good promise in this game and has the potential to improve every week with more playing time.
He seems to be a smart player who likes to bring the boom and once he gets more experience and understands NFL schemes should have a spot on this team somewhere in the future. Overall he had 6 total tackles and an interception while playing in a career-high 35 defensive snaps and showed some of the physical skills needed to play at this level.
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