Saturday, March 28, 2015

Roland Finds a Role

The undrafted guys scuffling for Eagles roster spots are always hoping to make plays that will get them noticed. Late in an improbable preseason win over Carolina, Justin Roland recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass that he then ran back for a touchdown.

Roland Finds a Role

   Justin Roland has nothing to do with the song of Roland, but I love to do silly things like this.     The 12th Century Song of Roland has more than 4,000 lines. The Eagles' media guide entry for rookie free agent linebacker Justin Roland has only 10.Justin Roland

   Justin Roland added a few lines to his song during Thursday's 24-point fourth-quarter comeback by Eagles reserves, which made the offensive starters' wretched performance seem a little less offensive, the Birds gaining their first preseason victory, 24-13, over the visiting Carolina Panthers.

    Previously, Roland was just the kid from Kansas State that somebody on the equipment staff saddled with Jeremiah Trotter's number. After recovering a fumble that led to a field goal Thursday night, then picking off a deflected pass and running it back 74 yards for a toucdown, Roland might become more than just the guy wearing 54 in this camp.

         Roland, built almost exactly like fellow rookie linebacker Joe Mays, at 5-11, 242, said he didn't know what happened to make LaBrandon Toefield fumble (Jerome McDougle was credited with forcing it). "I looked up and the ball was just sitting there, like in a perfect square (with no bodies around it). I dove on it and the referee gave it to us," Roland said.

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   Richmond McGee's 40-yard field goal cut Carolina's lead to 13-10. Then Tony Hunt cut back 51 yards for a touchdown, and the Eagles had the lead. But the Panthers were driving in the final minute when fourth-round rookie safety Quintin Demps blitzed and deflected a Matt Moore pass that Roland ran under.

     "I heard it," Roland said, when asked if he'd seen Demps bat the ball. "Then I looked up and it was right beside me, so I just caught it and took off."

      "The quarterback was the last dude I had to get by. After I got by him, it was free sailing."

      Roland acknowledged he has had a steep learning curve, coming to Jim Johnson's defense from a 3-4 at Kansas State. "The whole mindset of the defense is different," he said. "I'm finally getting to where I can make plays on the defense."

    Roland had one regret, standing in the Linc locker room afterward.

    "Everyone's telling me I should have kept the football," he said. "I'm a rookie. I didn't know we could just keep the football. Next time I'm going to have to hold on to the football."



Les Bowen Daily News Staff Writer
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