Akeem Spence Is ‘all Smiles' as His Fortunes Changed for the Better

Less than a month ago, defensive tackle Akeem Spence was preparing for a bleak season in Miami, his own future uncertain. Now, he's a member of the Eagles, in a defensive scheme he's familiar with, playing for a Super Bowl hopeful.

Fortuitous isn't something Spence has been very often during his seven-year NFL career, though he may have finally caught a break with the latest chain of events.

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"I've never been on a winning team, so just being here, I've been all smiles," Spence said following his first Eagles practice on Wednesday.

The Eagles will have a difficult time replacing Malik Jackson, a Pro Bowl player whose Lisfranc injury is potentially season-ending. That being said, Spence isn't simply a body at a position where depth can seem interchangeable.

He'll help fill the void.

Don't be fooled by the fact that Spence, 27, was released in August by the Dolphins, a team everybody has pegged for an 0-16 season after a Week 1 blowout. This is a quality interior lineman whose departures from Miami and the Lions in 2017 were largely the result of scheme changes.

"I was playing for (former Lions head coach Jim Caldwell) in Detroit, a great coach, loved him, and then they brought in Matt Patricia," Spence, who was traded to the Dolphins for a seventh-round pick last year, said. "I wasn't a 3-4 guy."

Spence said it was the same situation in Miami with the hiring of Brian Flores and saw the writing on the wall all along.

"I was kind of expecting it," Spence said of his release. "Just the direction they were taking things. It was just a matter of when."

A former fourth-round pick by the Buccaneers, Spence has made 57 starts, recording 177 tackles, 10.5 sacks and a forced fumble. The last two seasons account for almost half his production as a pro with 81 tackles and 5.0 sacks.

Spence should feel right at home in the Eagles defense, too. Both Caldwell and Matt Burke - who joined the Eagles' coaching staff as a special assistant after two years running Miami's D - utilized the Wide-9 front defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is known for.

"I feel like this defense is something that I've been in before playing for Coach Burke, so it's just gonna be getting down the terminology and being able to communicate with the guys on the field," Spence said.

"I've got a high passion for those guys. I love the way they coach defense, I love the way coach D-line and I have a passion for playing attack defense."

It remains to be seen whether Spence will be active when the Eagles meet Atlanta on Sunday. He needs to get comfortable with the playbook and work his way back into game shape after three weeks away from football.

Whenever Spence makes his Eagles debut - likely this week or next - he'll come with a plan.

"When I get my hand in the dirt, just whoop the man in front of me," Spence said. "Just playing ball, what I've done for seven years in this league."

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