Tuesday, July 7, 2015

BAKER TRIGGERED EAGLES PLAYOFF RUN

Rashad Baker has already played a major role in getting the Eagles to the playoffs and he just signed with the team today.

BAKER TRIGGERED EAGLES PLAYOFF RUN

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The Eagles have signed safety Rashad Baker, right, to a one-year deal. Baker came up with the game-clinching INT for the Raiders in Week 17 against the Bucs, which opened the door for the Eagles´ playoff run. (AP / File photo)
The Eagles have signed safety Rashad Baker, right, to a one-year deal. Baker came up with the game-clinching INT for the Raiders in Week 17 against the Bucs, which opened the door for the Eagles' playoff run. (AP / File photo)
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Rashad Baker has already played a major role in getting the Eagles to the playoffs and he just signed with the team today.

Some people may recall that it was Baker, a Camden native, who came up with a game-clinching interception on the final day of the 2008 regular season that made the Eagles' finale against the Dallas Cowboys meaningful.

Baker, a product of Woodrow Wilson High School and the University of Tennessee, intercepted a Jeff Garcia pass to seal Oakland's upset victory over the Buccaneers down in Tampa Bay. That play eliminated the Bucs from playoff contention and, combined with a Chicago loss in Houston, gave the Eagles a chance to earn an unlikely postseason berth. The Eagles, of course, trounced the Cowboys and went on to win two playoff games before losing to Arizona in the NFC championship game.

"I didn't know the impact it had at the time," Baker said after signing a one-year contract with the Eagles. "After the game, I saw that Philly had won and I started getting a lot of phone calls and texts telling me I helped the Eagles get into the playoffs."

Baker, 27, thinks it might have helped him get a job with his new team, too.

"It was definitely a good feeling," Baker said. "I never thought as a result of that play that Philadelphia would be interested, but I'm grateful for the opportunity."

Troy Archie, the Camden-based agent for Baker, said his client also had been in talks with Oakland, Cleveland and New Orleans. Archie said Baker wanted a chance to play near home and he felt this was a good opportunity after Brian Dawkins signed with Denver.

"He's a Philly fan and this was a great opportunity for him to play for a team that he followed since he was a kid," Archie said. "He wanted to get closer to home and his family and the Eagles were that opportunity. I think he'll make a contribution."

After losing Dawkins and Sean Considine via free agency, the Eagles were down to two Quintins -- Mikell and Demps -- at the safety position, but with the addition of Baker and Sean Jones, who signed a one-year deal last week, the team again has safeties in numbers.

Baker, who had a career-high three interceptions with Oakland last season after having a total of two in his first four NFL seasons, is hoping to compete with Jones for time at safety. Like Jones, Baker, 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, said he is capable of playing either free safety or strong safety.

"Through my years of playing, I always had to learn to be interchangeable," Baker said. "Whatever best fits the opportunity for me, whether its strong safety or free safety, I want to take advantage of it. Watching this team on TV, I've seen Brian Dawkins blitz and I've seen him back in coverage. I like the versatility of this defense."

Baker, who now lives in Williamstown, N.J., started his NFL career with Buffalo as an undrafted free agent in 2004 and has since played with Minnesota, New England and Raiders. That's a lot of moving in a little bit of time, but now Baker is hoping to find a home in the place he calls home.

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