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Eagles make three moves at safety

More depth.

NFL: OCT 18 Ravens at Eagles Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles officially announced three moves at the safety position on Wednesday afternoon. An overview:

  • S Rodney McLeod placed on injured reserve.
  • S Elijah Riley promoted from practice squad to active roster.
  • S Blake Countess signed to practice squad.

Let’s sort through this on a player-by-player basis.


McLeod suffered an ACL tear during Sunday’s win over the New Orleans Saints. Pretty unfortunate since he was playing well and hadn’t missed a snap all season long.

McLeod’s injury impacts the Eagles in both the short-term in the long-term.

Short-term: the Eagles’ secondary is obviously worse off without an experienced veteran playing on the back end. McLeod’s injury raises concern about defensive communication and leaves a leadership void both on and off the field.

Long-term: McLeod turns 31 in June. Can the Eagles count on him to play well in 2021? And when will he even be ready to play after suffering an ACL tear in mid-December?

Here’s wishing McLeod a speedy recovery.


The Eagles originally signed Riley as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2020 NFL Draft. He did some nice things in training camp to justify a spot on the practice squad. The Eagles elevated Riley to the roster twice this season; he got a brief taste of playing time with two defensive snaps and 30 special teams snaps. Adding Riley to the roster gives the Eagles more safety depth behind the likes of Jalen Mills (who might be playing at cornerback), Marcus Epps, K’Von Wallace, Grayland Arnold (injured?) and Rudy Ford (injured?).


Countess is back for his third stint in Philly. I guess that makes him the defensive version of Jordan Matthews.

The Eagles previously worked out Countess back in October. Here’s what we wrote at the time:

Countess, as you might recall, was originally selected by the Eagles in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He was waived in final cuts as a rookie before joining the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams then waived him last offseason due to a salary dispute and the Eagles claimed him off waivers.

Countess was poised to make the Eagles’ 2019 roster as a backup safety and special teams contributor before getting hurt and subsequently waived in training camp. He resurfaced with the New York Jets in October. Joe Douglas cut him earlier this year in March.

The 27-year-old Countess has made four starts in 43 games played since entering the league. He’s logged 54 tackles, three passes defensed, two interceptions, and one sack during that span. Countess has also received recognition in the form of an NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honor.

It might be worth noting that guys like Countess, Riley, and Arnold also have experience playing cornerback in addition to safety. With injuries stretching the Eagles’ secondary thin, it makes sense for them to add a versatile defender.

See below for a current look at the Eagles’ 2020 practice squad.

Format: Position, player, (times protected this season), [times elevated this season]*

*Not counting COVID-19 elevations.

RB Jordan Howard (4) [1] — Protected this week

OT Prince Tega Wanogho (2) [0] — Protected this week

LB Rashad Smith (3) [1] — Protected this week

CB Jameson Houston (1) [1] — Protected this week

RB Adrian Killins (1) [0]

RB Elijah Holyfield (0) [1]

WR Deontay Burnett (4) [2]

TE Caleb Wilson (3) [2]

TE Jason Croom (2) [2]

TE Hakeem Butler (0) [0]

DE Joe Ostman (3) [0]

DT T.Y. McGill (7) [2]

DT Treyvon Hester (0) [0]

CB Lavert Hill (0) [0]

S Blake Countess (0) [0]

{DE Matt Leo — international spot - doesn’t count towards limit}

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