Eagles snap counts: Nakobe Dean makes most of his chances

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Nakobe Dean finally got a chance to play some defensive snaps on Sunday and he made the most of them.

The third-round pick from Georgia had played just four defensive snaps through the first 12 games of his rookie season but when Kyzir White was forced out with an injury against the Titans after taking on a cut block, Dean stepped in and immediately impressed.

Dean, 21, played just 15 snaps in Sunday’s 35-10 win over the Titans but finished tied for second on the team with five tackles and a tackle for loss. He also had a big hit on special teams to open the second half.

“It was good finally to get out there and get some good defensive reps,” Dean said. “I’m always attentive on the sideline, always ready to go. So when he went down, it was just being ready like I always had been.”

When the Eagles were able to scoop up one of the stars of the 2021 Georgia defense with the 83rd overall pick this spring, many called it the steal of the draft. But stuck behind T.J. Edwards and White, there haven’t been opportunities for Dean. But during every game, he can be seen on Jonathan Gannon’s hip, waiting for his chance.

On his first defensive snap of the game, Dean was held by Titans guard Nate Davis but fought through the hold to trip up Derrick Henry. Heck of a first impression.

“I mean, I’m a linebacker. Filling the A-gap ain’t nothing,” Dean said. “You gotta fill the A-gap when you got it. It is what it is.”

Still, a pretty impressive play for the 230-pound Dean to fight through the block of a 315-pound lineman and make a tackle on a 250-pound back.

Other defensive notes

• The only Eagles player on defense to play all 55 snaps was UDFA Reed Blankenship, who made his first NFL start.

• Marcus Epps, James Bradberry and Darius Slay played 45 before most of the starters got to rest. These are the first snaps Epps missed all season. His streak is over.

• At linebacker, Edwards played 43 snaps, followed by White (40), Dean (15) and Christian Elliss (10).

• Jordan Davis played just six snaps in his return off IR. No reason to force him back into the game once it was a blowout.

• The Eagles’ DL rotation is very deep right now and that should help down the stretch. Here’s a look at how it shook out on Sunday: Haason Reddick (43 snaps, 78%), Javon Hargrave (28 snaps, 51%), Josh Sweat (27 snaps, 49%), Fletcher Cox (27 snaps, 49%), Milton Williams (25 snaps, 45%), Ndamukong Suh (25 snaps, 45%), Brandon Graham (18 snaps, 33%), Linval Joseph (13 snaps, 24%), Patrick Johnson (12 snaps, 22%), Kyron Johnson (10 snaps, 18%), Davis (6 snaps, 11%). Obviously, the Eagles were able to empty the bench at the end but it’s a nice sign to see these low usage numbers.

Offensive notes

• For the second time this season, Jalen Hurts was pulled late in a blowout. It also happened against the Steelers. So Gardner Minshew got the final nine snaps in this one.

• The only player on offense to play all 73 snaps was Jordan Mailata. The rest of the offensive line got out of there, with Seumalo and Dickerson rotating.

• DeVonta Smith led the receivers with 63 snaps, followed by A.J. Brown (60), Quez Watkins (37), Zach Pascal (28) and Britain Covey (9). Watkins left the game early with a shoulder injury but after the game said he was fine. Both Smith and Brown went over 100 receiving yards in this game, becoming the first pair of Eagles teammates to do that since 2018.

• Miles Sanders got 39 snaps, followed by the other running backs: Kenny Gainwell (20) and Boston Scott (17). The Eagles were in 21 personnel (2 running backs) for three plays on Sunday with Sanders and Scott sharing the field. That’s a new look as the Eagles figure out personnel groupings without Dallas Goedert.

• Goedert (shoulder) is out at least one more week. On Sunday, Jack Stoll again led the tight ends with 54 snaps, followed by Grant Calcaterra (28) and Tyree Jackson (8).

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