PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Eagles visit their NFC East rival, the Washington Redskins, on Sunday, looking to turn things around after this dreadful 1-4 start.
Washington, however, is on the other end of the spectrum. The Redskins are 3-1, all alone in first place in the NFC East and coming off their bye.
While the Eagles roster is chock full of familiar names, the Redskins success has come with more low-profile performers, especially on offense. That unit even features a former collegiate defensive standout in fullback Darrel Young, who was a star linebacker and safety at Villanova University.
Signed by the Redskins as a rookie free agent in 2009 to play defense after his career on the Main Line, Young spent three weeks on the practice squad before being cut. Then, in 2010, the Redskins brought him back, but with a position switch in mind.
“(Redskins) coach (Mike) Shanahan was the one who kind of transitioned and helped me, and said, ‘I think you would be a great fit for this offense playing fullback. We have a lot of guys, so you can compete against one fullback or compete against 13 linebackers. You choose.’ So I said, ‘I want to give it a chance, I want to put myself in the best situation possible to make this team.’ ”
While it does seem like a big change, Young says the move wasn’t as difficult as one may think.
“Offense is kind of natural to me,” he tells KYW Newsradio. “I went to college as a running back — they switched me because of some decommitments — and I ended up playing linebacker and (then) strong safety my senior year. So it’s natural to me — it’s not anything that’s foreign in terms of running with the ball and catching the ball out of the backfield.”
And Young says the possibility of a position switch was actually on the radar as he was preparing to enter the NFL in 2009.
“My agent told me to work out as a fullback and a linebacker on ‘Pro Day’ when I was at Villanova. So I did do that. I didn’t do too well as a fullback. I didn’t look bad… it was just more of understanding what routes you are running and stuff like that.”
Hear Matt Leon’s extended interview with Darrel Young in this CBS Philly SportsPod…
So what does Young like about being an NFL fullback?
“That you actually hit and I get the ball. I get to celebrate when guys score and stuff like that, as opposed to once every couple of games or however many times teams score on defense. It’s a great feeling. You’ve got a different mindset on offense: you want to put as many points on the board as you can. Also, I still have the special teams, so I do get the defensive feel of the game still.”
Young has been dealing with a hamstring injury and missed the last couple of Redskins games. But he says he started focusing on the Eagles during the bye week and is looking forward to getting back on the field on Sunday.
“I did watch a lot of film,” he says. “Just being here for treatment during the bye week, I didn’t have anything else to do. So I watched a lot of film on their scheme and how their guys play and stuff like that. We feel confident going into this game. We want to get them back for what they did last year in our house (a 59-28 Eagles win), and kind of go from there and try to build up for the future and try and win this NFC East.”
While most Redskins and Redskin fans would love to forget that blowout win by the Eagles in a Monday night game last season, you can bet that Young will always remember it. In that game he caught a three-yard pass from then-Skins quarterback Donovan McNabb for his first — and to this point only — NFL touchdown.
Reported by Matt Leon, KYW Newsradio 1060
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