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The Eagles’ Rodney McLeod spent part of his bye week encouraging Philadelphians to vote in the election | Early Birds

With no game to prepare for and few work obligations for the first time in months, the safety found a productive way to use his free time last week.

Eagles free safety Rodney McLeod
Eagles free safety Rodney McLeodRead moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Good morning, Eagles fans. Let’s hope you enjoyed the bye week, because Week 10 is now upon us. Eagles players had a few days off last week and will have another on Tuesday before returning to the practice field Wednesday in preparation for their division game against the New York Giants.

Players who spoke with the media Monday all agreed that this was an abnormal bye week. They weren’t allowed to leave the area like they normally would because they had to be at the facility each day to continue their coronavirus testing.

Rodney McLeod still found time to make a lasting memory during his time off.

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Getting out the vote

With no game to prepare for and few work obligations for the first time in months, Rodney McLeod found a productive way to use his free time last week.

Last Tuesday, he and his wife, Erika, rounded up Eagles players and made a remarkable effort to get out the vote. The McLeods developed a voting initiative called “My Voice My Vote," which included a pep rally, a shuttle service to polling locations and a double-decker bus with about a dozen Eagles players, including Jalen Mills, Darius Slay, Jalen Hurts, and Dallas Goedert, on board to encourage voting and bring food and drinks to poll workers.

“Tuesday was monumental,” McLeod said. “I think it kind of started the week in the right way, myself, my wife, our foundation, numerous teammates, other city officials and community leaders, all just stepped up and got out into the community, particularly in the neighborhoods where voter turnout wasn’t as high in 2016, and we wanted to place the emphasis on that, to encourage voter turnout, to thank those who have voted. But also thank the poll workers. We were able to provide hot chocolate, tea, coffee, to various sites, as well as some foods."

McLeod, a 30-year-old safety, has emerged as one of the team’s most prominent leaders this season in part because of Malcolm Jenkins' release in the offseason. The nine-year veteran who spent the last five seasons with the Eagles became the longest-tenured member of the team’s secondary. When the issue of police violence against several Black Americans, including George Floyd, Jacob Blake, and Breonna Taylor, rose to prominence during training camp, McLeod was one of the most vocal players on the team to advocate for social justice.

After president-elect Joe Biden won Pennsylvania by less than a percentage point, McLeod said the pivotal role the predominantly Black communities in the city played in turning the state blue and winning Biden the presidency was meaningful to him.

“I was proud just to see, me as African American man, my community vote in a manner that we did,” he said. “It was a very memorable day for me, and I’m just grateful to be a part of it, but like I said, to see Philly have the turnout that we did and know that we did affect this election. Everyone, I think across the nation, is looking at Pennsylvania and Philadelphia and just kind of celebrating because of it.”

What you need to know about the Eagles

  1. T.J. Edwards gave the Eagles the best linebacker play they’ve had all season during the Cowboys game. As Les Bowen writes, he’ll have two more chances to shine as Nate Gerry recovers from an injury.

  2. With Jason Peters and Lane Johnson seemingly healthy, Jordan Mailata’s starting spot along the Eagles offensive line is in serious jeopardy. Jeff McLane raises the question: Should Mailata start over Peters?

  3. Jim Schwartz learned valuable life lessons watching Alex Trebek host Jeopardy. After the game show host died over the weekend, Schwartz took some time to reflect on the impact Jeopardy! had on him as a college student. Bowen has the story.

From the mailbag

Which team do you think will provide the most competition for the division? — from Dan (@dannmaal) on Twitter.

Good question, Dan. I’m still going with the Washington Football Team. Yes, the New York Giants beat Washington this weekend in a game in which Washington lost its starting quarterback, but I’m still more confident in Washington going on a run than I am about New York or Dallas. Washington’s defensive line has tons of talent, and the team has a handful of promising young offensive players such as Terry McLaurin, Antonio Gibson, and J.D. McKissic.

If Alex Smith can play competently at quarterback and knock off the rust of sitting the last two years while recovering from a badly broken leg, Washington could put together some wins. It’s also worth noting the team has an easier remaining schedule than the Giants. Dallas has the easiest schedule left in the league, but the effort issues that have plagued the Cowboys in their first nine games aren’t likely to get better as the merciful end to a poor season inches closer.