The Eagles are big on connections, and new safety Kevin Byard has a lot of them with him new team, joining former teammates like A.J. Brown, Julio Jones, and Marcus Mariota, and also coming back to play for his hometown. Byard spoke to reporters on Wednesday, and talked about coming back home, what his role will be within the defense, and how he trained with Reed Blankenship this offseason.
Here’s what the veteran safety had to say:
On being traded to the Eagles
“I’m excited to be here. Excited to be in Philly, back home, my hometown, where I was born and raised at. So, it’s an exciting time for me right now.”
Byard admitted he doesn’t know how it’s going to feel playing for another team after spending his whole career in Tennessee, but said he’s excited and it’s just an adjustment. It’s been a crazy 48 hours for the safety.
“It definitely feels good to wake up 6-1.”
The safety later talked about growing up in Philly, and how the last few times he’s back have been to bury his Mother and two grandparents, in addition to the Titans loss at The Linc last season, so Byard appreciated coming back under different circumstances this time. He went on to say that his whole family still lives in Philly.
“It feels like home.”
He mentioned memories of watching the Eagles growing up, guys like Brain Dawkins, Donovan McNabb, and Brian Westbrook. Byard said that Dawkins had a huge influence on him growing up, and he used to watch Weapon X hype videos in high school. He’s really looking forward to playing in front of Philly fans, and for all the primetime games they have this season.
Byard was asked about his relationship with A.J. Brown, and he noted that they’re good friends and the WR was one of the first people he called after the trade happened.
On his role in the defense
He said that the coaches haven’t really talked to him yet about what his role might be, he just needs to learn the playbook, start developing relationships with his teammates, and help as much as possible.
“Obviously, this team has a great culture, a winning culture, has great leadership here, and I just want to come in and earn the respect of all my teammates by, first and foremost, preparing the right way, taking care of my body, and doing all those little things. So, try to do whatever I can to help this team win.”
Byard said that he feels like he’s a great player, but he had a great career with the Titans and now he’s with the Eagles, so he’ll need to keep playing at that same level.
When asked if he has a lot of gas left in the tank, Byard said, “Of course, I feel like that.” He’s in his eighth season but he’s feeling really good, and he’s fresh off a bye week so he feels fresh.
He later talked about his versatility, and how some of it is due to his skill set, and the rest is just watching a lot of film and taking care of his body.
Byard acknowledged that it’ll be nice joining a secondary with other veterans like Darius Slay and James Bradberry. Two guys he’s followed for years, the safety said that their experiences will help get the communication down quicker, because communicating with them will be really important.
On playing alongside Reed Blankenship
If Byard starts on Sunday, both safeties will be Middle Tennessee State alumni. While Byard noted the two never played together in college, they did train together this offseason in Nashville. Blankenship and Byard both live in Nashville during the offseason, so they’re friends.
“We’re really cool friends, so excited to be joining the secondary with [Blankenship].”
Byard said the two never really talked about the possibility of playing together, but the veteran is excited to join the second-year player in Philly.
“I think [Blankenship] is a really instinctual player, physical player, really smart. So, I’m going to lean on him at little bit too, obviously, trying to learn the playbook and everything.”