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Rodney McLeod is prepared to step up as a leader for the Eagles this season

The safety also talks about the revamped secondary and unique offseason.

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Eagles didn’t retain Malcolm Jenkins, but Howie Roseman said it was important to bring back safety Rodney McLeod to have leadership, experience, and familiarity at the position. McLeod spoke with the media on Friday about his new contract, taking on a bigger role, and what he expects from the revamped secondary this season.

Here’s what he had to say:

On free agency

“There’s always going to be some other contenders,” McLeod admitted, but said he wanted to stay in Philadelphia and to continue his career with the Eagles. He loves the city dearly and he wanted to continue the work he’s done on and off the field.

McLeod said he wasn’t thinking long term when he restructured his contract ahead of the 2019 season, and he just wanted to take it game-by-game as he was coming back from injury.

BGN’s Brandon Gowton asked about how he’s feeling two years removed from the injury, and McLeod admitted, “I feel good having a complete offseason.”

On the Eagles’ secondary

He was asked about how it’ll be without Malcolm Jenkins, and McLeod wasn’t shy to laud his former teammate as a great player and someone that was important to the team. McLeod also said that Jenkins was one of the reasons he came to Philly in the first place, and he learned a lot from playing next to him these past few years, including how to be a competitor and how to get the most out of the guys.

McLeod, however, understands it’s a business and that they have to move forward. He knows he’ll be asked to step up now, but he’s been a leader for some time and other guys will be willing to step up to the challenge.

The safety was also asked about Jalen Mills and their relationship and Mills’ move to safety.

“My relationship with Jalen is pretty good.”

McLeod mentioned they both got to Philly in 2016 and have worked together on turning the defense around during that time. He thinks the transition to safety will be really easy for Mills, and he’s someone who plays with a lot of passion and energy, and he’s super versatile and can move around the field.

He also noted that “there’s really no telling what it could look like,” when asked about the revamped secondary. McLeod pointed out that everybody has a very unique skillset, is versatile and competitive. He’s excited to get out there with everyone, but until then it’s hard to say — but there’s a lot of talent.

McLeod also talked about Avonte Maddox and how we’ve seen him be a versatile player for the team the past couple years, and he’s filled in for various players as injuries have popped up and been successful.

On challenges of a shortened offseason

“I think the biggest thing is the chemistry you usually build.”

Despite a challenge to build chemistry, McLeod thinks they’ll just need to be able to adapt. He suggested in June/July when guys are usually away, they might get together this year instead to make sure they are ready to go and establish the communication they’ll need.

There hasn’t been any communication between players about getting together like this, but McLeod said it’s something he’s thought about and it’s something he wants to take on himself and see when that might be an option.

He also admitted that training is difficult right now because they don’t have access to their regular gyms and trainers, but at the end of the day, he’s been around for awhile and he knows how to workout. He’s turned his garage into his gym, and he’s not letting any time slip by for him to improve as a player, and he’s staying in tip-top shape.

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