The departure of C.J. Gardner-Johnson this offseason created a big hole in the Eagles’ secondary. The ballhawking safety put together a career year in Philadelphia, and his ascension played a key role in this unit being one of the league’s very best in 2022.
Given this, safeties has received a ton of attention in training camp as a fierce position battle plays out. However, one player is already standing out among the rest.
By all accounts, Reed Blankenship has made his presence felt in early practices. He’s played predominantly with the starters throughout camp, and many are already declaring this position battle over. Jimmy Kempski of the Philly Voice said he’s “seen enough to make a call,” and Zach Berman of the Athletic described Blankenship as “the top safety on the team this summer.”
For anyone who watched the undrafted safety last year, this doesn’t come as a surprise. He proved he was more than up to the task of filling in for CJGJ last season when the latter was sidelined, holding down his spot in the secondary over four starts.
Blankenship flashed playmaking potential in limited time last year, recording an interception against Aaron Rodgers in Week 12, then forcing (and recovering) a fumble in the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers.
Analytics liked the Middle Tennessee product as well. Blankenship earned a favorable 75.8 overall grade from Pro Football Focus for his work during the 2022 season.
The safety has some work to do in pass coverage after allowing six receptions on just 10 targets last year, per PFF. However, the early reports from camp indicate he’s put in the work to be worthy of earning a starting role.
With Blankenship rising to the occasion, any concerns about this secondary dropping off in play appear to be eased. Now it remains to be seen who lines up alongside him, as Terrell Edmunds, K’Von Wallace and Syndey Brown look to make their cases to this Super Bowl hopeful.
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