PHILADELPHIA – Alex Singleton is no stranger to long journeys of perseverance and determination, and this year has been no different for the Eagles linebacker.
He began the season as a starter and was named special teams captain, even though his role on those units began to diminish as his defensive role grew. It stopped growing, though, as Davion Taylor began to develop and Singleton found himself parked on the bench while the defense was on the field, though his special team role ticked up again.
Singleton had no problem with that, as his snaps went from around 50 percent for the first six games to 37 percent, 21, 10, and 10, over the next four.
“They just kind of told me what the decision was going to be," he said. "I had the choice, you can lay down and just kind of feel sorry for yourself and hurt this team and hurt the organization and I guess ultimately hurt yourself by losing a job pretty quickly if you do that. So, I decide to do whatever I could do to make the team better.”
It was an easy decision, really.
Spend any time around Singleton and you quickly learn just how selfless he is.
It's a trait born from a career of never having anything handed to him, from the six times he had been cut while searching for an NFL job, and, while doing so, starring in the Canadian Football League.
It's the kind of attitude instilled in him with a strong family upbringing by his mom and dad, Steve and Kim, and his three siblings, one of whom, Ashley, has Downs Syndrome.
Ashley has never let that slow her down, and she has been a fixture on the Special Olympics teams for the past 25 years or so in bowling and swimming. Her relationship with her brother Alex is tight-knit, and Alex will wear a special set of cleats honoring Ashley and Special Olympics on an NFL weekend called My Cause, My Cleats.
Singleton is back in a starting role and his snaps are back above 50 percent the last two games after Taylor suffered his second injury of the season, landing him on Injured Reserve.
The linebacker is also back in the hunt to lead the team in tackles for a second straight year. He had 119 in 2020, despite not starting until Week 6.
This year, Singleton is threatening to top last year’s total. He is up to 95 tackles with fellow linebacker T.J. Edwards the next closest to him, checking in with 77.
Singleton simply shrugs his shoulders when asked and talks about the team. No surprise, really.
“It’s always cool to lead in something,” he said on Thursday as the Eagles prepare to play the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
“But it’s just the plays coming to you. If it’s relevant to what’s going on, it helps. Obviously, I want to win games first because that’s the most important for the team and where we’re going. The next five have a lot riding on them. We can go where we want to go if we can take care of business for the next month and a half and that’s definitely more important, but it’s always cool to be able to do that.”
Taylor has one more game to spend on IR before possibly returning.
In the meantime, Singleton will have a role in helping the Eagles (5-7) try to make a late-season push for the playoffs.
“You definitely look (at the playoff picture),” he said. “Every week we hope Washington loses, we hope Dallas loses and we hope New York loses…But you do have to focus on the team you’re playing.
“Obviously last week we could’ve controlled beating the Giants. That’s something you obviously focus more on with an NFC East opponent. This week, if we lose to the Jets, no matter what, whether teams win or lose, we drop no matter what.
“That’s where you have to focus this week because we have to beat the Jets to be where we want to be and start this NFC East run that we’re going to have to go on.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.