Eagles see Alex Singleton’s ‘arrow up’ as a starting NFL linebacker

Former CFL all-star linebacker Alex Singleton has emerged as a bona fide starter for the Philadelphia Eagles.

After earning limited snaps on defence in Weeks 3, 4, and 5, the 27-year-old has started nine straight games for Philly. He’s produced a team-leading 98 total defensive tackles — 62 solo and 36 assisted. That includes a single-game career-best 15 tackles in Week 10 against the New York Giants.

“He’s a guy that’s been improving. He had a hard time starting his career, got cut a bunch of times, had to go to the CFL, came back earned his way on special teams, and then started being able to get a little bit more for us,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said in a videoconference.

Flying to new heights: linebacker Alex Singleton ‘earning his wings’ with Eagles

The Eagles are 4-9-1, which puts them last place in the NFC East. Singleton has been a standout despite Philadelphia’s overall struggles to consistently play winning football. He’s created disruptive plays on defence, the biggest of which was an interception return for a touchdown on Sunday Night Football in Week 4 to secure Philadelphia’s first win of the season.

“You see a lot of plays that he makes in the run game, where he was still sort of a work in progress was in the pass game. There was a lot of things in the pass game, mistakes that he would make or things that he could do better, but I really see his arrow being up in those categories too now,” Schwartz said.

When the Eagles faced prolific passers such as Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Kyler Murray in recent weeks, Singleton was on the field for nearly every snap. That’s a sign Schwartz now trusts the CFL’s 2017 Most Outstanding Defensive Player against the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

“He’s become a much more consistent zone player. He’s become better at directing traffic back there, making all the calls and being on the field for every snap is a lot different than being a complementary player. He’s grown in all those things, and knowing the kind of guy he is, he’ll continue to grow, and that speaks well for him and for us,” Schwartz said.

Philadelphia closes out the season with a visit to Dallas in Week 16 and home match-up versus Washington to end the schedule in Week 17. Singleton will see two veteran pivots in Andy Dalton and Alex Smith providing two more opportunities to impress on film against savvy passers.

Singleton is developing quickly while showing the star potential he displayed in Canada in the NFL. That should lead to the exclusive rights free agent cashing in and becoming a mainstay south of the border for years to come.

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