Shaq Leonard makes his Eagles debut with limited playing time: Eagles snap counts

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Eagles snap counts: Shaq Leonard gets his feet wet in Eagles debut originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Former All-Pro linebacker Shaq Leonard made his Eagles debut but didn’t play very much in the 33-13 loss to the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Since Leonard arrived during last week, the Eagles worked him into the rotation with Zach Cunningham and Nicholas Morrow, who have been the two starters for most of the season.

Here’s how linebacker snaps shook out on Sunday:

Nicholas Morrow: 64 snaps (78%)
Zach Cunningham: 61 snaps (74%)
Shaq Leonard: 14 snaps (17%)

Leonard might have actually played more than the Eagles expected in this game. Both Cunningham and Morrow had to take trips to the blue medical tent and Leonard was on the field in their place. The only other linebacker active was rookie Ben VanSumeren, who played special teams only.

Those 14 snaps are the fewest Leonard has played in any game of his five-year NFL career. But the plan is obviously to keep bringing him along now that Leonard is an Eagle.

It’s worth nothing that Leonard saw time with both Morrow and Cunningham in this game. Of his 14 total defensive snaps, Leonard played 9 next to Morrow and 5 next to Cunningham. If Leonard does end up growing into the starting role, it seems likely he’d be playing next to Cunningham, who has been the Eagles’ best linebacker this season.

Other defensive notes

• Overall, the Eagles’ defense played 82 snaps in this game. That’s the second highest total this season behind the 95-snap game against the Bills. That means that they’ve played their two highest-snap games in a three-week span. Not great for a defense that has looked gassed at times.

• Safety Reed Blankenship left the game after 27 snaps, which means rookie Sydney Brown played a career-high 58 defensive snaps in this game after he played just 7 against the 49ers.

We also saw Kelee Ringo play 22 defensive snaps against the Cowboys after he had played just 1 all season before Sunday night. Ringo had a forgettable performance. On his 14 snaps in pass coverage, he gave up 2 catches on 2 targets for 47 yards and also committed DPI and got called for a facemask on the same play.

• Rookie Nolan Smith played a career-high 21 snaps (26%) in this game. But the Eagles’ top edge rushers still played a lot: Haason Reddick (59 snaps), Josh Sweat (53 snaps), Brandon Graham (42 snaps.

• At DT, Fletcher Cox led the way with 48 snaps, followed by Jordan Davis (43), Milton Williams (40), Jalen Carter (35) and Marlon Tuipulotu (18).

Offensive notes

• Dallas Goedert returned after missing three games and played 46 of 55 offensive snaps. He was followed at tight end by Jack Stoll (11) and Grant Calcaterra (3), while Albert Okwuegbunam was out.

• This was a blowout so Jalen Hurts and most of the offensive starters were removed late in the game for the last couple snaps. The only two players who played all 55 snaps were Jordan Mailata and Landon Dickerson. Dickerson finished the game at center.

• The only three players Hurts targeted in the pass game were Goedert, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. Smith led the receivers with 52 snaps, followed by Brown (51), Quez Watkins (26), Olamide Zaccheaus (15), Julio Jones (13) and Britain Covey. While Zaccheaus did have a 28-yard catch, it came from Braden Mann on a fake punt.

• At running back, it was close this week. D’Andre Swift led the group with 28 snaps, followed by Kenny Gainwell (25) and Boston Scott (3). Swift had 11 carries for 39 yards and Gainwell had 4 for 28.

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