DeMeco Ryans will take on a lot of responsibility immediately with the Philadelphia Eagles. Ryans, a two-time Pro Bowl linebacker from the Houston Texas, was acquired by the Eagles this week in exchange for a fourth round draft pick in 2012. The Eagles and Texans also swapped third round picks this year. The Eagles now have the 89th selection overall, while the Texans have the Eagles’ 77th choice overall.
Ryans will be expected to make a big impact as the team’s new middle linebacker. Andy Reid, Eagles head coach, feels Ryans brings a lot to the table.
“We were able to bring DeMeco into a good situation with his playing style and obviously he will be a great asset to the Philadelphia Eagles defense,” Reid said. “He’ll be playing middle linebacker for us. He’s coming from a 3-4 defense that had been a 4-3 in years past, and we consider him one of the top 4-3 middle linebackers in the National Football League. He’s got a nice track record to show that. We’re excited to have him join our young linebacking corps and bring some senior leadership in there and experience.”
Ryans was originally a second round pick of the Texans in 2006. He has played and started in 86 games, earning Pro Bowl honors following the 2007 and 2009 seasons and was an Associated Press All-Pro selection in 2007. Ryans, 27, leaves Houston as the team’s all-time leader with 637 tackles while also contributing eight sacks, six forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and two interceptions in his six-year career. The Eagles will need him to make a lot of plays in the middle of the field.
“I’m happy being back in a 4-3 defense,” Ryan said. “That’s the defense I’ve been playing since high school. I have been in the middle of that defense for a while in high school and in college. It’s back to what I do naturally. I’m a natural middle linebacker, and this is what suits my ability.
“I can sense that everyone has been looking for that middle linebacker. I’m happy to be the guy that they chose to step in and be the middle linebacker of this defense. Like I said, it’s a perfect fit for me, and it’s what I like to do. I’m just eager to get started.”
Ryans, a 6-foot-1, 247-pounder, was named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2006 after leading the team in tackles (156) and adding 3.5 sacks and an interception. He went on to start all 16 games and compiled over 100 tackles in each of the next three seasons. In 2007, he garnered All Pro, Pro Bowl and team MVP honors. In 2009, he earned his second trip to the Pro Bowl and was voted as a team captain in 2010.
But that year he suffered a rupture of the Achilles tendon after six games. He did come back in 2011 to start all 16 games. He helped contribute to a Texans defense that ranked among the league leaders in several categories including points per game (17.4 –4th), yards per game (285.7 –2nd), passing yards (189.7—3rd), rushing yards per game (96.0—4th) and sacks (44-6th). Ryans gradually raised his level of play following the injury.
“I was slow,” Ryans said. “It slowed me down a little bit at the beginning of the season. As the season went on, it continued to get better. Towards the end of the season, I was moving around, feeling like myself again.”
Ryans, a native of Bessemer, Ala., played his college football at Alabama, where he was a first-team All-American in 2005. He was a teammate of Eagles offensive guard Evan Mathis with the Crimson Tide. In addition to his play on the field, Ryans has been noted for his community work. He has his own foundation. Reid feels Ryans’ leadership and community efforts are similar to former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins.
“It’s funny you say that because Rick Smith, the Texans general manager, actually said that,” Reid said. “That’s the type of person that you’re getting. Obviously, they are two different type of individuals but with some of the leadership and character that you’re getting on and off the field, I think they are the same.”