SEATTLE — Dannell Ellerbe made his Eagles debut on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks because Joe Walker was out with a stinger.
Ellerbe rotated with Najee Goode at middle linebacker in the base defense, although the Eagles spent most of the time in defensive packages with only one or two linebackers.
Ellerbe, 31, signed with the Eagles on Nov. 13. The nine-year veteran spent the last few weeks learning the defense. The Eagles valued his experience when they signed him, and it didn't take long before they needed him. Walker has taken about 11-29 snaps per game since replacing Jordan Hicks as the middle linebacker. Goode, a versatile veteran, was the first linebacker to replace Walker on Sunday. He has a better understanding of the defense than Ellerbe and has played with Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks.
In addition to Walker, the other inactives were tackle Will Beatty, wide receiver Marcus Johnson, defensive end Steven Means, defensive tackle Elijah Qualls, running back Wendell Smallwood, and quarterback Nate Sudfeld. Rookie Shelton Gibson played ahead of Johnson for the second consecutive week.
A big part of the Eagles' first-half deficit was fluttering flags – and not the 12th Man flag actor Chris Pratt raised before the game.
A block in the back by Najee Goode ruined a Kenjon Barner kickoff return to the Eagles' 40, the Eagles instead starting 30 yards back at their 10.
Much more devastating was a pass-interference penalty on Ronald Darby, who seemed to be jostling along with Paul Richardson as they reached for an incomplete pass. The Seahawks got a first down at the Eagles' 16, setting up the half's only touchdown, an 11-yard pass from Russell Wilson to tight end Jimmy Graham, over Malcolm Jenkins.
The Eagles finished the first quarter with four penalties for 44 yards, and then in the second quarter, an Alshon Jeffery hold on a LeGarrette Blount run that would have netted a first down inside the 5 instead placed the Eagles at the 14. They settled for a 26-yard Jake Elliott field goal, their only points of the half.
At halftime, the Eagles had five penalties for 54 yards.
Eagles see an old friend
The Eagles played against former first-round pick Marcus Smith on Sunday. Now a linebacker on the Seahawks, Smith had a quarterback hit on Carson Wentz in the first half. He has found new life in Seattle after flaming out with the Eagles after three seasons. The Eagles cut him in August.
"We thought he had plenty of ball left," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said during the week. "Sometimes guys go places and the expectations are so high, it's hard to meet up with it. You get a high draft pick like that and the expectations are so high, it just doesn't fit. We saw him as a guy who can help us, jump in, and be versatile. He's done all of that. He's a been a good addition to our team. We're happy to have him."