PHILADELPHIA -- The chants of "Reed" were getting louder in the corner of the Philadelphia Eagles locker room, right where Darius Slay and James Bradberry reside. Slay was leading the charge, as reporters swarmed to talk to Reed Blankenship -- an unsung hero in Sunday night's victory over the Green Bay Packers.
Filling in for the injured C.J. Gardner-Johnson, the Eagles chose Blankenship to play safety. Not only did Blankenship play just two prior defensive snaps on the year, the Eagles safety was tested right off the bat. The first target Blankenship ever saw in the NFL was from Aaron Rodgers.
Interception. The rookie wasn't tested again the rest of the night.
"Going into this game I didn't know that I was going to be able to go in there and do what I was supposed to do," Blankenship said after a thrilling Eagles win. "I know that my name was going to get called eventually; it's a long season. But I was ready for it, I was prepared for it and went in confident. I have guys in the room that are mature and I just learned from them everyday."
Slay was already jealous of his young teammate. He played seven seasons in the NFC North, never picking off Rodgers when he was with the Detroit Lions. Blankenship was targeted once by Rodgers -- and earned the interception in the red zone of a 20-14 game, right when Packers tight end Tyler Davis appeared to have a walk-in touchdown if the play wasn't broken up by the rookie.
"My mouth would be dry too if I picked off Aaron Rodgers," an excited Slay said about his teammate. "I'm low-key jealous. I'm not gonna lie -- because he got him before I did. I've been in a league for 10 years. He's a f---in rookie!
"Kudos to him, man. I'm happy for my dawg. I've been in the business for seven years and I couldn't kick his ass, so good for him."
Most hadn't heard of Blankenship prior to his interception off Rodgers. An undrafted rookie free agent out of Middle Tennessee State, Blankenship made the 53-man roster over established veterans like Jaquiski Tartt and Anthony Harris in training camp. The Eagles kept him on the roster when they traded for C.J. Gardner Johnson hours before the final roster cutoff, seeing promise in the hard-hitting safety.
Blankenship ended up playing 35 snaps, finishing with six tackles and that interception that certainly was unexpected -- well, not to the ones watching Blankenship in training camp.
It was a continuation of what Philadelphia saw in training camp. Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni certainly knew a performance like this was coming. That's why the Eagles couldn't afford to leave Blankenship off the 53-man roster in the first place.
"When we had pads on. It just seemed like every time he was coming up and making tackles. We liked him without pads on and now we really like him when he's able to show his physicality out on the field," Sirianni said. "So, I think that's where we really started talking about him more and more and more.
"We got whooped in the Miami preseason game, but some of the tackles he was making in that game, and it was on display in training camp and in pre-season games."
If Gardner-Johnson has to miss significant time, the Eagles know they can count on Blankenship to fill in. The depth at safety was a question mark throughout the year, but Blankenship provided an answer -- for one night at least.
"You've got to work the nerves out a little bit," Blankenship said. "I haven't played defensive snaps in forever but as soon as I made that hit I was like, 'I'm back.'"