The Eagles made a change at middle linebacker in Monday's win over the Oakland Raiders, starting veteran Dannell Ellerbe, making Joe Walker a healthy scratch, and keeping Najee Goode as a special teams player.
Ellerbe, who had had one defensive snap since signing in November, took 27 defensive snaps Monday. That amounted to 39 percent of the snaps – notable playing time for a base-down linebacker. Ellerbe was credited with four tackles and one tackle for a loss.
"We felt like it was a great opportunity for Ellerbe to get in there and see what he can do," coach Doug Pederson said. "He's a big, physical guy who gives you a presence in the run game."
The question now is whether it's a permanent change. Pederson said Walker is still bouncing back from a stinger that sidelined him for two games earlier this month, although Walker's status was not in question because of injury last week. Goode, who took the middle-linebacker snaps last week against the Giants, has more experience on special teams.
The Eagles signed Ellerbe for a reason. He's a nine-year veteran who doesn't have much of a role on special teams, so the Eagles likely envisioned Ellerbe helping as a base-down middle linebacker this season while Jordan Hicks is sidelined.
It had been mildly surprising when Ellerbe remained behind Walker and Goode for the past month, but that might change for the playoffs — especially against teams with physical running games.
"He did well in the game," Pederson said. "It's hard to say right now that the job is his. … Right now, if I had to stand here and say Ellerbe is the guy, then he might be the guy going forward."