Packers' safety one of several Delaware stars shining in NFL's prime-time games, with Eagles up next
NFL players with Delaware ties have had some big games on national TV this season.
Most recently, that included Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage, the Caravel Academy grad, who intercepted two passes in the Packers' 41-25 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday night.
Earlier in the season, Los Angeles Chargers safety Nasir Adderley, a University of Delaware star, intercepted New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees during a Monday night game and returned the ball to the Saints' 1-yard line.
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That was followed by Vikings right tackle Brian O'Neill, a Salesianum grad, blocking Bears defensive tackle Bilal Nichols, a Hodgson and University of Delaware star, during a Monday night game on Nov. 16.
Nichols, in fact, was also shown this past Sunday in the game against the Packers and Savage. Nichols, who has started all 11 games this season, had three tackles against the Bears.
And of course, Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin was featured prominently last Sunday afternoon in a national TV game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Godwin had eight catches for 97 yards in the 27-24 loss.
There's also Los Angeles Rams linebacker Troy Reeder, another UD star, who is coming off a career-high 15 tackles last Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
The Eagles are the next opponent for Savage and the Packers, when they play Sunday in Green Bay.
For Savage, those were his first two interceptions of the season. The Packers' first-round pick in 2019 has started every game he has played in.
But Savage missed a game earlier in the season with a quad injury. He has played much better since his return.
"I think one thing that comes from experience is you just have better eye discipline," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. "It’s always a fine line when you get a guy that’s as athletic and can cover the field like he can. He wants to make a play. And typically, I’d say for most players, if you try to force that play, it doesn’t always work out that way.
"You gotta let the game come to you, and I was really proud of his effort, and just allowing those plays to come to him. And when he got the opportunities, he cashed in on them."
That was evident on Savage's first interception.
Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky tried throwing deep to Darnell Mooney near the end zone. But Savage saw it coming and got to the ball first. Savage said after the game that he remembered the Vikings running that play earlier in the season against him on a 39-yard completion to Adam Thielen.
"People always say it's a copycat league," Savage told reporters who cover the Packers on Sunday night. "Stuff that worked, teams are going to find a way to get back to it. I had a feeling they were going to take a shot, and when I turned and I saw the ball in the air, I just tried to run as fast as I could and get under it."
None of this has been easy for Savage.
He ran a 4.36 in the 40-yard dash at the 2019 NFL combine, which helped convince the Packers to select him in the first round rather than waiting until the second round.
Savage was hoping to have more interceptions by this point. These were his first two of the season after getting two last season.
"... I was getting to a point where it's like, ‘When's my play going to come?'" Savage said. "I feel like I've really settled in and just trusted the process and trusted myself and just going out there and trusting everything that I've prepared for in the offseason and just everything.
"I'm going to keep doing that and hopefully we keep getting the same results."
It was the same for Adderley and Reeder.
Adderley went to the Chargers in the second round, 60th overall, of the 2019 draft. He missed most of his rookie season because of a hamstring injury suffered at his Pro Day at the University of Delaware about six weeks before the draft.
Finally healthy this season, Adderley had to work his way into a starting role. He has made the most of it. He has started 10 of 11 games. In addition to his interception, Adderley has also recovered a fumble last Sunday in the Chargers' 27-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Reeder, meanwhile, has started two games at linebacker for the Rams. He has 36 tackles and three sacks so far.
The Rams signed Reeder in the spring of 2019 as an undrafted free agent. He not only made the team, but started eight games as a rookie and has a prominent role this season as a backup and special teams regular.
"You win with guys like Troy Reeder," McVay said on a conference call with reporters who cover the Eagles back in September. "He has only gotten better. He’s conscientious. He’s got great attention to detail. He’s a glue guy in the locker room because he does a great job of establishing good relationships with so many different guys."
Savage is getting there, too.
Contact Martin Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.