Reed Blankenship was sitting towards the mattress body of his resort room Saturday evening when the undrafted Eagles rookie’s cellphone rang. On the opposite facet was his father, Troy.
Blankenship’s father-son duo usually share significant exchanges the day earlier than sport days. In line with Blankenship, the subject of their conversations often facilities round some sort of motivational message from her dad.
That evening, Troy supplied a excessive prediction for Blankenship.
“Hey son,” his father mentioned. “You are going to take down Aaron Rodgers.”
Blankenship, 23, wasn’t fairly positive how one can react. He initially advised his father that the possibilities of him conducting such a feat have been “slim to nil”.
All through his rookie season, Blankenship had been relegated primarily to a particular groups position. Final week at Indianapolis, Blankenship lastly made his debut on protection, showing in a particularly restricted spot because the workforce’s additional security in dime packages.
“My mother and father know the deal,” Blankenship mentioned. “I have been on particular groups all season. I am simply the little man on the workforce.
That very same little man ended up being a significant contributor within the Eagles’ 40-33 win over the Packers on Sunday evening at Lincoln Monetary Discipline.
With lower than 4 minutes to go within the first quarter, beginning security CJ Gardner-Johnson collapsed on the pitch after making an attempt to hit the ball provider. Gardner-Johnson, the NFL’s interceptions chief, wanted a number of minutes earlier than he fastidiously retired to the house sideline. He was then instantly carried off the pitch; Gardner-Johnson was recognized with a rib damage and didn’t return to the sport.
Insert Blankenship, the hard-hitting safety of the small city of Athens, Ala.
Within the Packers’ ensuing follow, Blankenship was deployed because the workforce’s deep security instead of Gardner-Johnson. Because the Packers confronted second and fourth from the Eagles 28-yard line, Blankenship got here out of his spot within the deep, heart a part of the sector and jumped previous anticipated receiver Tyler Davis. From Rodgers’ perspective contained in the pocket, it may need regarded like he had a window open on Davis. Nonetheless, Blankenship saved his eyes on the reigning league MVP alongside the way in which, and he netted his first profession interception for the longer term Corridor of Famer.
Blankenship admitted he owed Troy an apology for questioning his father’s daring prediction.
“It was an emotional rollercoaster,” Blankenship mentioned. “I am unable to wait to proceed. It is a type of issues that not often occurs. You continue to have a chip in your shoulder. My work shouldn’t be completed. That is just the start.”
The extent of Gardner-Johnson’s damage will doubtless not be identified till later within the week when the Eagles launch their first damage report main as much as subsequent Sunday’s sport towards the Titans. If Gardner-Johnson wants some additional downtime, it is clear that Blankenship is the subsequent man. The 23-year-old security handed former fourth-round draft decide Ok’Von Wallace and veteran Andre Chachere on the depth chart.
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Blankenship was a five-year starter at Center Tennessee State, the place he completed with a whopping 419 tackles. All through the summer season, he grew to become a coaching camp darling for his outings that featured a handful of crushing and technically stable hits. Within the preseason finale, Blankenship lifted Dolphins working again Salvon Ahmed off the grass earlier than pushing him again into the bottom. Blankenship was one in all 4 undrafted rookies to make the workforce’s preliminary 53-man roster.
“It is a credit score to the way in which he approaches the sport,” teammate Marcus Epps mentioned. “There could be challenges in a match at this location, however Reed is all the time in the best spot in follow rehearsals. We have now all religion and belief in him. His preparation materialized on the pitch.
“He confirmed he was a hell of a tackler. He’s a bodily participant. He performs actually exhausting.
Blankenship, who additionally completed with a team-best six tackles, shone for almost all of Sunday’s sport, however there have been additionally a number of teachable moments.
He was penalized for pointless roughness after making an attempt to scrub up with Darius Slay on a sort out on large receiver Christian Watson. Blankenship appeared to guide together with his helmet on, prompting a close-by official to throw up his yellow flag. Instantly afterwards, Blankenship waved “my dangerous” to his teammates contained in the huddle.
Throughout the fourth quarter, Watson lined up towards Epps and went slanting 63 yards for a landing. Lining up Epps towards the speedy Watson may need been extra of a schematic flaw underneath coordinator Jonathan Gannon, however Blankenship nonetheless took a nasty angle to make a possible sort out when he was the final man in protection.
“We knew the Packers have been going to present us their finest shot,” Blankenship mentioned. “I am unable to wait to dive into the film. You need to work some nerves. I have never performed a defensive snap in ages, however as soon as I received my first hit, I received the I felt like I used to be again. Again to taking part in soccer. I really like soccer. I felt like a child there.
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As he addressed a horde of reporters after the sport exterior his locker room, Blankenship was always fired up by a number of team-mates. Slay interrupted Blankenship’s availability by chanting “Reed!” Reed! Reed!” This was adopted by a hoarse throughout the room from large receiver Zach Pascal, who shouted a number of expletives whereas encouraging Blankenship to remind everybody the place he got here from.
Sadly for Blankenship, neither Troy nor his mom, Sandra, have been capable of attend the Week 12 contest in Philadelphia. Troy felt a bit uneasy – and provided that Blankenship is taking part in on an undrafted rookie’s wage with simply $55,000 assured cash, he mentioned his mother and father select probably the most logical video games to take part in and which corresponded to the household finances.
Blankenship hopes his mother and father will have the ability to attend the remaining seven video games of the common season. However first, he owes his father, Troy, one other cellphone name.
“It is a type of moments that I’ll bear in mind perpetually,” Blankenship mentioned.