The Eagles have waived Tre Sullivan twice in two years, including after this season’s opening game, but the safety, like so many young players, especially in the secondary, is making the most of another chance.
Sullivan played a season-high 75 percent of the defensive snaps (48 of 64) in Sunday’s 16-15 wild-card win over the Chicago Bears. Not bad for somebody who signed with the Eagles in 2017 as an undrafted free agent out of Division II Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va.
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In five of the last seven games, the 6-foot, 200-pound Sullivan has played in at least 50 percent of the defensive snaps.
As his playing time has escalated, so has his confidence, he said Wednesday, as the Eagles prepared for Sunday’s divisional playoff game in New Orleans against the Saints.
“We are players, we learn by experience, and that is something I lacked earlier in the year,” Sullivan said. "I am growing, I am young, my ceiling is high, and I will continue to grow.”
In the second-quarter of Sunday’s game, Sullivan dropped what looked like a sure interception in the end zone, and the Bears went on to kick a field goal to take a 6-3 half-time lead.
Has he received much flak for the drop?
“A ton,” he said, admitting it was deserved.
“That is a play I have to make,” he said. “I am blessed to have another opportunity this week, and am looking forward to making the big play.”
Otherwise, Sullivan was pleased with his performance. He had three tackles, three passes defensed, and a special-teams tackle.
“For being consistent and making tackles, that was my best game,” he said.
Sullivan credits teammate Malcolm Jenkins, one of the best safeties and leaders in the NFL, for contributing to his development.
Jenkins, on the other hand, had one simple message earlier this season for Sullivan.
“One thing I emphasized to him every week is [to] find one thing and get better at it,” Jenkins said.
Sullivan has done just that and has been rewarded with extended playing time. He has also been valuable on special teams, tying for second on the team for regular-season tackles with seven.
After being waived early last season, he was signed to the practice squad two months later. This season, he played on special teams in the season-opening win over Atlanta, was waived the next day, and then was signed to the practice squad four days later.
Sullivan was placed on the 53-man roster on Oct. 10, and his playing time has increased as the season wore on. He insists he isn’t surprised at his accomplishments.
“This was a goal I set out for myself,” he said. “Last year was definitely a rough year, but I was really learning. You want to play, but I soaked it all in."
He said he is proud that he stuck it out when things didn’t look so bright.