And even after Harris struggled, eventually losing the job after six starts, Demps didn't get the call to replace him.
In fact, in a hodgepodge season when the Eagles struggled to find a replacement for Dawkins, Demps, picked in the fourth round in 2008 to be the heir apparent to Dawkins, didn't make a single start.
He'd learned a sobering and humbling lesson about the rapidly changing status of players in the NFL.
A decline can happen much faster than ascension.
"Oh man, I know," Demps said of the chance he missed. "I missed out on a big opportunity. It's a life lesson learned. I can't blame anyone but myself.
"I didn't handle it well. I was talking too much, trying to do too much. I was trying to be a Pro Bowler before I had become a starter."
But blowing one opportunity is different than blowing a career.
If Demps saw the writing on the wall about his career in Philadelphia once the Eagles signed Indianapolis Colts free-agent safety Marlin Jackson and drafted South Florida safety Nate Allen in the second round of the 2010 draft, it didn't stop him from working to show he was better than the player who struggled last season.
If he was bothered that Allen was elevated to starter to begin training camp after Jackson was lost for this season to an Achilles' tendon injury in June, it hasn't showed.
In fact, Demps' play thus far during training camp has been an early bright spot in a secondary with a lot of questions.
Allen has performed well, too, but Demps is definitely putting pressure on the rookie to keep his level of play high.
"That's very accurate," coach Andy Reid said when asked whether Demps is pushing Allen for the starting job. "[Demps] has been making plays. He's doing well, and that sure is a plus."
Don't think Demps will hear Reid's top-notch analysis and let it get to his head. He's been there, done that and learned how costly it can be.
"I'm just trying to set the foundation and get better every day," Demps said. "It's faith first and then experience.
"Things come with learning. This is my third year, and I feel more comfortable with things than I did in my first and second years."
Let's be honest, second chances are a rarity in the NFL.
The acquisitions of Jackson and Allen certainly weren't votes of confidence from the Eagles that they thought Demps would excel.
But another thing about this league is that the next opportunity could always be just around the corner.
Jackson was likely penciled in as the starter until he was hurt. At the end of OTAs, the Eagles asked Harris to revert to cornerback from safety.
The Eagles always thought Demps had the physical tools to play at this level. They just needed him to show it, and so far, this time around he has.
Like the defensive line, the secondary is a place where the Eagles never believe they are deep enough.
Demps can play his way onto this team.
"That's why we brought him here," Reid said of his belief that Demps could be a fine NFL safety. "We put him in a position last year where he's a young player trying to step in and fill in. He made a few mistakes, and it didn't work out for him there.
"But he had a great offseason and he's come back, I thought, very strong in this camp."
The mental aspect of this game can never be underestimated.
If nothing else, Demps' re-emergence is proof that he has the character and disposition to fight through the day-to-day challenges that this profession requires.
"It's like I tell my son," Demps said, "you've got to forget those things that are in the past and look forward to what lies ahead.
"That's how I've approached this. That's how it is going to be." *
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