For a backup, being ready is a Goode trait

Posted: November 14, 2013

THE ONLY Eagle to manage a touchdown at Lincoln Financial Field since September seems very likely to be in the lineup Sunday against the Redskins.

But it might be a mistake to pin your hopes for an end to the 10-game home losing streak on the scoring prowess of Najee Goode, who clambered into the Linc end zone with a blocked punt against the Giants Oct. 27. After entering last Sunday's game in Green Bay when Mychal Kendricks went down, the second-year reserve linebacker saw a sure pick-six interception go through his hands.

Goode said he played offense in high school, but that his father, John, who played tight end for the Eagles in 1985, teased him after the Green Bay game "never try to play offense again."

This was retribution for the phone call John Goode got from his son following the Giants game, Najee very much aware that his father never scored an NFL touchdown. "As soon as I got back to the house, I called him and told him I'd one-upped him," Najee said. "We got drafted in the same round, but he got drafted three picks before I did. He always talked crap about that . . . My dad always keeps a healthy competition going on."

Goode is one of several backups in the spotlight this week as the Eagles prepare for an NFC East encounter with the visiting Redskins. The only absence we're sure about right now is that of rookie safety Earl Wolff, who said yesterday he'd hyperextended his right knee in Green Bay. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis said Wolff is "week-to-week" but that Kendricks and corner Bradley Fletcher are "day-to-day." There was no update on left tackle Jason Peters, who suffered a quad injury Sunday, on top of several other ailments. Peters, Wolff and Kendricks all were bystanders at practice. Fletcher took part in the noncontact workout.

With the bye week coming up after Washington, it seems logical several of the injured Eagles might sit out this week and try to get healthy. That means opportunity for someone like Goode, who would like to show that he is more than just a special-teams guy.

"It means a whole lot, not necessarily to prove anybody wrong or do anything like that, but to go out there and make a statement, to say that I played in the Green Bay game, most of the game, upheld my part of the deal, making the plays I was supposed to make . . . Now I've got a chance to go out there and start and do the same thing," said Goode, a fifth-round Tampa Bay draftee in 2012 who came to the Birds on waivers just before the season began. "Now you're starting. What can you do with it? . . . In this defense, a lot of people do get a chance to play, and injuries happen left and right."

Eagles coach Chip Kelly lauded Goode's intelligence when Kelly spoke to reporters after reviewing the Green Bay game film Monday, Kelly noting that Goode has a degree in mechanical and industrial engineering from West Virginia. Goode said yesterday he majored in engineering because his father, after a brief NFL career with the Cardinals and Eagles, became a quality control supervisor for Ford in Ohio. The Goodes are the first father-son duo to play for the Eagles in the regular season.

Goode said he enjoys watching extra film with DeMeco Ryans and other defensive players on Fridays, "because we get to sit down there without coaches - that's the way it's going to be during the game, no coaches, we've got to be able to go out there and make calls and make adjustments ourselves."

Ryans, the leader of the defense, said when Kendricks went down Sunday on the Packers' second snap, "it didn't seem like a big difference, because Najee just came right in . . . it just flowed right together. Sometimes you have guys come in that haven't played and it's like there are big communication issues, stuff like that, but everything just flowed very smoothly. Najee's a smart player, and it showed . . . Not thinking he was going to get any reps, he still prepared like he was going to play."

It's a bigger deal than you might think to be able to do that. We're 10 games into the season now, and before Sunday, Goode's most extensive defensive work had come in mop-up time during that blowout loss in Denver.

"Staying in there watching the film [even though] you're not on the film," is difficult, Ryans noted.

The stakes are a little lower this week for veteran Patrick Chung, stepping in for Wolff. Chung was signed from the Patriots this offseason to be a starter, and has started four of the six games he has been healthy enough to play. Chung, who played for Kelly at Oregon, probably doesn't have to convince anyone he is up to taking regular defensive snaps, but he might have to convince the coaches he can stay healthy after missing four of the last seven games with a recurring shoulder problem.

"I tested it last game, everything was fine," Chung said yesterday. "I have no worries about it."

Earlier in the season, Chung was getting beaten in coverage and Wolff was making a lot of rookie mistakes, just not recognizing things quickly. It didn't seem to matter much which of them played opposite Nate Allen. Lately, Wolff has really started to come on. Chung knows the bar has been raised.

"I gotta be way better," Chung said, when asked to evaluate his play. "Earl's good now. Everybody makes mistakes, little rookie mistakes, but he's a baller. He goes full-speed every play."

Wolff said he is relieved not to need surgery. "It's not even that swollen, honestly, it's just real sore," he said. He added that he expects to miss "a couple weeks, for sure."

Wolff said he didn't know what happened to him until he watched film of the game and saw he had banged knees with Packers running back Eddie Lacy, whose leg was planted in the ground while Wolff's leg was moving. Wolff said he's never had an injury that caused him to miss a game, at any level of football.


On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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