Cor­ner­back Smith pro­moted from prac­tice squad

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @BobGrotz on Twit­ter

With cor­ner­back Leo McKelvin and his ail­ing ham­string a game time de­ci­sion, the Ea­gles raided their prac­tice squad, pro­mot­ing C.J. Smith to the 53man ros­ter Thurs­day.

The sec­ond-most fa­mous North Dakota State alum on the team cred­ited the most fa­mous Bi­son, Car­son Wentz, for bring­ing the scouts to Fargo.

Smith had a solid se­nior sea­son as he ranked among the na­tion’s lead­ers with 1.54 passes de­fended per game, fin­ish­ing with 16 breakups and four in­ter­cep­tions. Those were FCS num­bers, though.

The way Smith re­mem­bers it, the prac­tice field ba­si­cally was lit­tered with pro scouts step­ping on each other’s toes to work out Wentz. When the 5-11 Smith lifted off with a 39-inch ver­ti­cal, which is NBA solid, he was asked to hang around with Bi­son of­fen­sive line­man Joe Haeg. Smith and Haeg, who be­came a fifth-round pick of the Colts, wound up get­ting jobs in the NFL.

“I think Car­son be­ing there helped a lot be­cause of the ex­po­sure,” Smith said. “It was on ESPN. There were a lot of scouts there. Why not stay and look at other guys, just in case? I think it opened up a lot of eyes.”

Smith felt his best chance would be with the Ea­gles, and he showed what he could do in train­ing camp and the pre­sea­son. The 188-pounder demon­strated a knack for break­ing up passes, and he had an in­ter­cep­tion in the pre­sea­son.

Smith doesn’t have top-end speed as he clocked a 4.51 at the pro day. But he has solid an­tic­i­pa­tion.

And not be­cause of Wentz, who shook his head ‘no’ af­ter hear­ing Smith wouldn’t have got­ten to the NFL with­out all those scouts who came out to see the quar­ter­back on pro day.

“I don’t know about that,” Wentz said. “He’s been a re­ally good player for years at North Dakota State. I’m real ex­cited for him and his fam­ily. And I know a lot of guys back at North Dakota State are fired up for him. I talked to him this morn­ing and he told me the news be­fore he tweeted it out and ev­ery­thing. I’m re­ally ex­cited for him. He’s worked his tail off. He’s come a long way.”

••• McKelvin’s ham­string is the chief con­cern right now for the Ea­gles, as it has kept him out of prac­tices and side­lined him on and off in the pre­vi­ous game.

McKelvin hopes he’s healthy enough to be a game-time de­ci­sion.

Pro Bowl de­fen­sive line­man Fletcher Cox, how­ever, was lim­ited at prac­tice Thurs­day with an an­kle is­sue. Cox was held out of the Wed­nes­day work­out. The good in­jury news for the Ea­gles is spe­cial teams stand­out Bryan Bra­man (shoul­der) was full-go.

In Wash­ing­ton, Pro Bowl tight end Jor­dan Reed (con­cus­sion) and rookie wide re­ceiver Josh Doct­son (Achilles’ ten­don) sat out prac­tice for a sec­ond straight day. Sev­eral play­ers were lim­ited in­clud­ing, among oth­ers, cor­ner­backs Josh Nor­man (wrist) and Bashaud Bree­land (an­kle), of­fen­sive tackle Trent Wil­liams (knee) and de­fen­sive tackle Chris Baker (foot, wrist).

••• The Ea­gles signed tight end An­thony Den­ham to the prac­tice squad. Den­ham (6-4, 236) was a 2014 un­drafted rookie of the Tex­ans out of Utah . ... The Pro Bowl vot­ing has be­gun for the Jan. 29 game at Camp­ing Grounds Sta­dium in Or­lando. Wentz is on the bal­lot, as are Sam Brad­ford of the Vik­ings and Dak Prescott of the Cow­boys.

Un­for­tu­nately you can’t even write Mark Sanchez in.

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