Think back to the summer, when question marks swirled around the Eagles linebacker group. They were young, inexperienced, and none of them seemed to be any good.
The conversation started with Nate Gerry and the departures of Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill.
Alex Singleton’s name was rarely mentioned, and if it was it was after Gerry, T.J. Edwards, Duke Riley, and even rookie draft picks Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley.
Singleton has emerged as the most consistent of the bunch, and, if you’re making a list of positive surprises this season, look no further than the recently turned 27-year-old from Thousand Oaks, Calif., by way of Montana State and the Canadian Football League.
His emergence is my top story of the Eagles' disappointing 2020 season, especially when considering that the Eagles don't invest many resources in the position.
Singleton will make his 11th start of the season Sunday night against the visiting Washington Football Team and he will end the game as the team's leading tackler.
He and Jalen Mills both have 105, but Mills was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday.
It is rare for a linebacker to top 100 tackles for the Eagles.
Seth Joyner made it look routine when he topped the century-mark from 1988-1993, but the last linebacker to get more than 100, per pro-football reference, was Nigel Bradham when he had 102 in 2016. The only other linebacker to do it over the last decade was DeMeco Ryans, who went over 100 in 2012 with 113 and 2013 with 127.
Singleton reached 105 numbers despite not joining the starting lineup until Gerry went on IR, never to be seen again, in Week 6 on Oct. 18.
For every tackle he made this year, the linebacker has donated money to Special Olympics PA to honor his big sister, Ashley, who is a Special Olympics athlete in California.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Singleton, about topping 100 tackles. “I always talk about that Tackling Inclusion thing that I did for Special Olympics. I see all the Tweets about it, the last time a linebacker did it and stuff.
“To me, it really matters because the most I’ve been able to give back to the community because of it. I know originally they projected me to have 12 tackles, so to come out and have over 100, it’s special and it means a lot.”
It's also meant a contribution of more than $10,000 to Special Olympics PA.
Singleton gave credit to every trainer and coach he had along his journey to get this opportunity, but, right now, it doesn’t take away the sting of a four-win season.
“In a personal way, obviously, I’m happy with it,” he said. “As a player, you only really remember the bad from a season, especially one like this, and you just want to build for the next one. It’ll be something as I get older, I’ll be pretty happy with what I was able to do.”
Singleton should be given a chance to age a few years with the Eagles. He is an exclusive right free agent at the end of the year, giving the Eagles every chance to keep him around, and that’s exactly what they should do because the best part of Singleton isn’t what he does on the field but the person he is off of it.
He is an athlete who is very appreciative of everything the game gives him and does not take it for granted.
Some of that may stem from the fact that he bounced around after getting signed by the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2015, going from there to New England to Minnesota, and spent three years in the CFL, winning defensive player of the year once with the Calgary Stampeders.
Certainly, his parents Steve and Kim Singleton had a hand in molding him into the person he is.
As far as him being a player, there is a sense that Singleton has even surprised himself this year, talking about how he has had to grow in his confidence and do everything the coaching staff asked of him at the very demanding position of middle linebacker.
“I think MIKE (middle linebacker) is one of the hardest parts of the defense, call the plays, line everybody up, especially with the guys we have here, every level has All-Pro guys,” he said. “You have to earn their trust to be able to go out there and even give them calls. So being able to do that and just playing and becoming more confident as the weeks go.
“We have one more game and I’m more confident than ever to go out there against Washington and do whatever the coaches ask me to do and hopefully play another good game.”
With Singleton's emergence, the question marks at his position have been erased.
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