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Avonte Maddox seeing action at safety for Eagles

The former Pitt cornerback played a key role in the team’s Week 4 game with the Titans

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Former Pitt cornerback Avonte Maddox saw the first significant action of his NFL career on Sunday, when the Philadelphia Eagles faced the Tennessee Titans in an interconference matchup and fell 26-23. The results were mixed for Maddox, but the Eagles coaching staff indicated he’s likely to see more playing time moving forward.

In the defending Super Bowl champions’ recent loss, the rookie stood in for Rodney McLeod at safety, splitting duties at the position with Corey Graham, a 12th-year veteran. McLeod suffered a season-ending MCL tear during the team’s matchup with the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 23. Maddox pointed out after the game that it was his first time playing safety.

”It’s a lot [to process] because I’d never played the [safety] position before,” Maddox told Mike Kaye of during a postgame interview. “I just dove right into it.”

Despite a lack of experience, Maddox showed great promise at the position, particularly in the second quarter of Sunday’s game, when he tracked down an overthrown pass from Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota for the first interception of his NFL career. However, the high from that moment wouldn’t linger long, as the Pitt product also gave up a big play later in the game.

In overtime, Maddox was tasked with covering Titans wide receiver Corey Davis with time nearly set to expire and the Eagles sitting on a 23-20 lead. However, Davis got the better of Maddox, juked past him, and leapt up to reel in a game-winning touchdown pass from Mariota with just five seconds left on the clock.

While mistakes of that sort can often result in a benching, it seems like Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is more inclined to give Maddox a shot at redemption.

”Even though some things are new, he’s got excellent quickness, and great eyes for the football,” Schwartz said of Maddox, according to Les Bowen of “He’s got the combination of being able to cover and being able to play the run. All the things we liked about him as nickel, we also like about him as a safety. And I think we’ll see more of him going forward in that role.”

Schwartz also noted that he felt Maddox was the player most comparable to McLeod on the Eagles roster, and the fact that he gave him such a positive review after his performance on Sunday bodes well for his chances of seeing the field often in McLeod’s absence.

Maddox and the Eagles will take the field again this coming Sunday, when they face the Minnesota Vikings in a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game.