Following nine months of rehab for a torn ACL, safety Rodney McLeod is set to make his 2021 regular-season debut on Sunday afternoon when the Eagles (1-2) host the Chiefs (1-2) at Lincoln Financial Field.
McLeod, who has been listed as inactive during the first three games, was a full participant in practice this week. At the conclusion of the team’s final practice Friday, coach Nick Sirianni confirmed McLeod will be active on game day.
“His leadership is huge,” Sirianni said of McLeod. “Whether he was not practicing at all, practicing or getting ready for a game — he’s shown to be the same person and leader every single day. That’s huge to get that veteran leadership out there. I’m really excited he’s going to be able to get back out and contribute.
“We need those guys out on the field that have that type of leadership that Rodney has.”
McLeod, 31, tore his ACL last December in Week 14 versus the Saints. During training camp, he eyed the regular-season opener at Atlanta as an ideal return date, but that was pushed back a few weeks under the team’s guidance.
McLeod’s return will be happily welcomed by a position group lacking depth. Safety K’Von Wallace separated his shoulder Monday’s loss against the Cowboys. He was placed on injured reserve and will miss at least three weeks.
“I feel ready to go,” McLeod said. “I really trusted the plan that was put in place by doctors and trainers. I’ve been building and putting myself back into football shape over the past month. We all feel like I’m at a point where I feel good and look good in practice.
“I’m ready to compete and help this team out.”
Despite not playing at the beginning of the season, McLeod was voted by his peers as one of two team captains on defense, Brandon Graham was the other. That title comes with even higher expectations following Graham’s season-ending torn Achilles injury.
“My role has been to help those guys as much as I can,” McLeod said. “It’s a competitive room. I’m glad now that I’ll be out there to compete with them.”
Sirianni declined to discuss the extent of McLeod’s participation in his first game back, but the expectation is McLeod will have some type of role versus Kansas City. McLeod will reunite in the secondary with safeties Marcus Epps and Anthony Harris, his former college teammate at Virginia.
“We’re going to have to cover well, particularly in the secondary,” McLeod said. “The teams who have made plays against the Chiefs, have put themselves in position to win. If we do that, the plays will come. It’s a very good group — obviously Patrick Mahomes, we know what he can do. We’re up for the challenge.”