There's an opening at safety for the Philadelphia Eagles heading into the 2022 season, a position the front office decided not to fully address in free agency and the draft. Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon already has a favorite for the position, a player he wants to take control of the other starting safety spot opposite Anthony Harris.
Marcus Epps is going to get the opportunity to earn that spot, which is why the Eagles didn't spend top dollar on a safety in the first place.
"He's played at a high level the times that he's played for us, and you have to be able to do that over the long haul snap after snap. Really excited to see him play this year," Gannon said at Eagles OTAs. "That's just the thing is just one snap at a time and being a consistent football player and executing at a high level with everything that we ask the safety position to do."
Epps started three games for the Eagles last season and finished with a career-high 62 tackles with five passes defended and an interception. A former sixth-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2019, Epps was claimed off waivers by the Eagles in November of his rookie season and has worked his way up the depth chart ever since.
Over the past two seasons, quarterbacks have targeted Epps as the primary defender 44 times. Epps has recorded three interceptions and given up only one touchdown, only allowing a 56.3 passer rating in coverage -- this in spite of allowing a 75% completion rate.
The Eagles feel the 26-year-old can be even better in Year 2 under Gannon, even with Epps facing competition from Harris and 2020 fourth-round pick K'Von Wallace.
"He's definitely ready to be a starter," Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox said on Epps, via JAKIB Sports. "He comes out, he puts in the work, he puts in the time, he studies in the film room, he has great fundamentals and details. He makes plays. Last year, he made plays.
"He's not afraid to come up and tackle and he's definitely capable of running 40 yards to the left, 40 yards to the right to stop that fade ball or help that corner out on the fade ball. I'm excited to see what he can do this year."
Epps will have this training camp to reward the Eagles for their faith, one of the defensive players the franchise has developed into a solid contributor over the past few years. Year 2 under Gannon could transform Epps into a reliable starter -- if all goes according to plan.