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Rodney McLeod Set to Make 2021 Debut Against the Chiefs

The veteran safety will return from a torn ACL Sunday against Kansas City.

PHILADELPHIA - Rodney McLeod didn't make his self-imposed Week 1 goal of returning from the torn ACL the veteran safety suffered last December but he is set to return at a very good time for defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.

McLeod will be in the mix for the Eagles defense just in time to face Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and the rest of the explosive Kansas City offense, perhaps the best unit in the entire NFL.

"I feel ready to go," McLeod said Friday after practice. "Trusting the plan that was put in place by doctors, trainers, and really have just been getting myself back in football shape over this past month. I'm at a point where I feel good, I look good in practice, and I'm ready to go out there and compete and help this football team."

Head coach Nick Sirianni wouldn't discuss McLeod's role but it's hard to imagine the 10-year veteran will not be next to his former college teammate Anthony Harris on the back end of Gannon's defense, especially with second-year fill-in K'Von Wallace on injured reserve with a separated shoulder and fellow safety Marcus Epps dealing with a shoulder injury of his own.

“It’s going to benefit us in the long run, just having that depth, having guys that you know can come at any point in time and play," McLeod said when discussing his fill-ins. "It makes the room a lot better. It’s a competitive room and just glad now that I can be out there and compete with them.”

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The original plan for McLeod was Week 1 but that was a little too optimistic a timetable for an injury that occurred on Dec. 13 of last year against New Orleans.

“You always want to live up to what you preach and that was my expectation and I pushed myself hard to get to that point, but I also put myself in position where maybe there was a chance if there were different circumstances,” McLeod said. “But just understanding it’s a long season and then also going back and discussing with the trainers, I trusted them and I had to do what was smart and best for this team and not be selfish.

"That was the biggest thing. I feel good, we all feel great about where I’m at and I’m excited to get back out there Sunday.”

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McLeod, 31, had been a limited participant in practice for the past few weeks and that turned into a full plate for the first time this week. On Sunday he will get thrown into the deep end of the pool against Andy Reid's offense.

Rodney McLeod at Eagles practice

Rodney McLeod

Kansas City comes in on a two-game losing streak and sits at 1-2. Still, it's a dangerous team.

"This is a great test for what they do," he said. "They stretch the field. They're a very skilled group. They're labeled as one of the best, so it's a challenge for us defensively, particularly in the secondary. We're going to have to cover well and we're going to have to show up and make plays. The teams that have made plays against them have put themselves in chances to win. For us, it's just doing our job each and every play.

"We're up for the challenge."

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McLeod was a senior at the University of Virginia when Harris arrived and the two have known each other for many years but this will be their first time playing together at the professional level.

McLeod believes he and his old friend "fit well together" and that the two are "very interchangeable" which should help Gannon's scheme which has been very zone-heavy early in the season.

“It’s huge,” Sirianni said of getting McLeod back. “He’s shown every single day whether he was not practicing at all or whether he was out there practicing or whether he was getting ready to play in a game, he’s shown to be the same person every single day and he’s shown to be the same leader every single day."

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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.