Eagles' Rodney McLeod on the injury that made him question his future

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McLeod on the injury that made him question his future originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The only game Rodney McLeod missed with an injury the first six years of his career was Eagles-Giants at the Linc in 2017.

“I was fortunate enough to go six years of my career with only missing one game,” he said. “And I was very upset with the one that I missed due to a hamstring. I think I could have played, but they held me out. For all good reasons. But I feel like I was just blessed and fortunate enough to not experience any [serious] injuries early in my career.”

From 2012 through 2017, the first four years with the Rams then his first two with the Eagles, McLeod played in 94 of 96 games. He also missed the 2017 season finale when Doug Pederson rested most of his starters with the No. 1 playoff seed locked up.

Only one safety — Glover Quin — played in more games than McLeod during that six-year span.

Then came 2018, and he played only three games after tearing the MCL in his right knee in a game against the Colts. Then came 2019 and a shoulder injury that required post-season surgery. Then came 2020 and another torn ACL, this one in his left knee suffered in the December win over the Saints.

The last time McLeod didn’t have surgery was 2017.

“Don’t know why, but that’s the way God wanted it to happen,” McLeod said Wednesday. “And I think at the end of the day it’s taught me a lot about myself, being able to face these challenges and adversities and build character and build that mental strength, so that’s something I can take with me that’s I think made me an even better player.”

McLeod is 30 now and turns 31 in three weeks. When he suffered this latest injury in December he really questioned whether he could go through another surgery, another rehab, another comeback.

“I did have a moment to myself where I did question my football career, but I was encouraged by a lot of the text messages and support I received on social media from family, friends and fans,” he said. “Honestly, that really reminded me of who I am and my character and who I stand for and who I’m doing it for. So quickly I moved on and committed myself to the rehab process. Now I’m about five months out, feeling good and just going to continue to work.”

McLeod has quietly been very good when healthy during his five years with the Eagles. Watch the Super Bowl and it’s incredible how many impact plays he made that unforgettable evening in Minneapolis.

This will be McLeod's sixth season in Philly, and there are a lot of question marks surrounding him, considering the injury, the presence of a new coaching staff and a bunch of new safeties that the Eagles have added the last couple years, including K’Von Wallace, Anthony Harris and Andrew Adams.

But McLeod has Sept. 12 and the 2021 opener against the Falcons circled on his calendar.

He plans on being out there.

“I’m just extremely confident in the work I’ve been putting in,” he said. “The progress has been great from week to week, from month to month, trusting in the trainers, the strength staff and the medical staff as well, and for myself, it’s just a mindset. I have to take myself there. That is my goal. I want to be available for my team not for only eight games (if he starts the season on PUP) but for all 17, so that is my motivation. And so for me, I have all intentions on being there Week 1. At the end of the day, you’ve got to listen to your body and listen to everybody around you, but I am grinding around the clock to be available for my team.”

It's natural for people to question McLeod or doubt him considering his age, the knee injuries and the new defensive coaching staff.

It all drives him, and he’s planning on it all driving him to another productive season as a starter.

“I can say I’ve experienced it all in a sense and I’m still here,” he said. “But it does continue to motivate me, honestly. … Whether it’s an article I see or whether it’s an injury or a new coaching staff, there’s always something to keep me going or keep my battery charged. So I’m just focused on getting better and being available for my team this season and going out there to battle with these guys again.”

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