PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A day after being traded to Philadelphia in a surprising deal with Houston, new Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans on Wednesday met the media, toured his new team’s complex, addressed his new city, and then attended the 76ers game.
Think he likes his new town?
“I feel the passion here from the fans and the love in here from the city. I’m just excited to get started,” he said. “We have a great team here with great teammates and I’m looking to come in here, do my part, and be myself.”
Ryans, a two-time Pro Bowl linebacker with the Texans, who was dealt for a fourth-round draft pick in 2012, was not shy about what he hopes to do with the Eagles, and made that known in a hurry.
“I’m going to take this city,” he said, “where we want to go.”
That would be — Eagles fans hope — to the Super Bowl for the first time since after the 2004 season.
Before any run at a title though, Ryan did admit — like many others — he was a bit taken back by the deal … as well as the timing. The 27-year-old linebacker and team captain, after all, left Houston as the Texans’ all-time leader with 637 tackles. He also contributed eight sacks, six forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and two interceptions in his six-year career. He earned Pro Bowl honors following the 2007 and 2009 campaigns and was an Associated Press All-Pro selection in 2007.
“It was a little surprising when I first heard of the move, but at the same time, it was good because I knew I was coming to a good team,” he said. “I was excited about that because I know how good this team was in previous years and last year. I’ve gone down the road there and I knew I was coming to a good team.
“It was a perfect fit for me.”
The Eagles had problems at linebacker last season, and that weakness was evident in a 4-8 start. Philadelphia rallied with four consecutive wins to finish 8-8, but missed the playoffs a year after winning the NFC East.
“We were able to bring DeMeco into a good situation with his playing style,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said, “and obviously he will be a great asset to the defense. He’ll be playing middle linebacker for us.”
Ryans — who received a standing ovation at the Knicks-Sixers game during the second quarter at the Wells Fargo Center — was a second-round draft pick by the Texans in 2006, the same year the team took Mario Williams with the top overall pick. Ryans made the bigger initial impact of the two stars, making 156 tackles to earn the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year honor.
He was also durable, starting all 16 games in his first four seasons. He tore his left Achilles tendon in the sixth game of 2010 and the season collapsed, with the Texans dropping eight of their final 10 games.
“I can sense that everyone has been looking for that middle linebacker, and I’m happy to be the guy that they chose to step in and be the middle linebacker of this defense,” he said. “Like I said, it’s a perfect fit for me, and it’s what I like to do. I’m just eager to get started.”
He’s not alone.
“You’re talking about a really physical, instinctive linebacker. He’s in control,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. “We always watch the middle linebacker in the biggest games toward the end of the season. We had the opportunity to watch him in a 4-3 defense a few years back, and saw him play against the NFC East.
“We felt very confident and comfortable making this trade.”
The Texans ranked second in total defense last season (285.7 yards per game), finished 10-6 and earned their first division title and playoff berth.
“It was great,” Ryans said of the postseason. “Houston was a place where we were building toward a playoff run. It took us a while to get there, but once we had the core guys in place, we did what winning teams do. We practiced the way winning teams practice, and we went out about our ways the way winning teams do.
“You saw that come to light with us making the playoffs, and us making a run on it.”
Now, if he can only do that in Philadelphia.
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