Skip to main content

Eagles UDFA Rookie Family ‘Surprise’ Gift vs. Giants on Christmas?

The Philadelphia Eagles' ailing linebackers could pave the way for UDFA Ben VanSumeren to see his first defensive reps with family in town to see him play for the first time as a pro.
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

PHILADELPHIA – Ben VanSumeren has yet to play a defensive snap for the Philadelphia Eagles this season, though he has played 131 snaps on special teams (36 percent) in the last six games.

That may change on Monday when the New York Giants come to town when VanSumeren may be forced into linebacker duty with Zach Cunningham out with a knee injury and Nick Morrow listed as questionable with an abdomen injury.

“I’m ready for it,” said VanSumeren. “I feel like for some time I’ve been ready for it. I’ve been taking defensive reps here for some time now, so I’ve been prepared for this situation for a while. You come in here and, obviously, I’ve been playing special teams, but I’m prepared to add value to the linebacker position as well and I know I’m prepared for that.”

Ben VanSumeren

Ben VanSumeren

Morrow thinks so, too.

“He’s been playing well all season,” he said. “He’s made a lot of great plays in practice. I’m excited to see him go out there and play He has a lot of range, he’s fast, he has a lot of explosion, so Ben’s pretty good, man.”

Also coming to town for the Christmas Day matchup will be his parents, Jeff and Cindy, and not-so-little brother Alex, who, at 6-3, 300 pounds, is a defensive tackle at Michigan State, though a serious knee injury prevented him from playing this season.

It will be the first time his family will see him play as a professional, and if that’s not a great Christmas present, then what is?

“It’s going to be pretty cool,” said VanSumeren, who is 6-2, 230 pounds.

It was already pretty cool for the VanSumerens that their son and brother was signed as an undrafted free agent on a $130,000 contract. The Eagles cut him at the end of the summer but added him back to their practice squad and finally elevated him in Week 9 against the Dallas Cowboys.

The organization liked him enough that, when it came time to open a roster spot a couple of weeks back, they released Christian Elliss, who was snapped up by the New England Patriots.

“He's continuing to progress and you really see his athletic ability,” said head coach Nick Sirianni. “It's on display. He started on the practice squad. We wanted to get him up because of his athletic ability and how that can contribute on special teams.

“Now you're starting to see it play more and more into how practice looks and games. We're really excited about his progression and the things he's done.”

VanSumeren packs plenty of athleticism into his body.

“I am a very high-energy guy and feel my instincts are really good and I feel like, ever since I got here, I feel like that has been my biggest step and grown into really quickly, and I know I’m a physical guy,” he said. “That’s really what the position consists of.”

In high school at Bay County in northern Michigan, he played various positions before settling at receiver, where he made a state-record 81 catches for 1,259 yards and 13 touchdowns as a high school seniors division player of the year by The Associated Press.

The Eagles just need him to tackle and play pass coverage if he finds his way onto the field for his first defensive reps.