History has taught Brent Monson that when opportunity knocks, expect Alex Singleton to answer the call.
So the Calgary defensive co-ordinator wasn’t overly surprised when Singleton, a former Stampeder, registered a timely pick-six that helped the Philadelphia Eagles beat the San Francisco 49ers 25-20 on Sunday night.
The win moved Philadelphia (1-2-1) atop the NFC East standings.
“It was great, I was pretty excited to see it happen,” Monson said in a telephone interview Monday. “Given the opportunity, you know he was going to succeed.
“That’s just who he is. He’s always in the right place, he knows what to do.”
The six-foot-two, 240-pound Singleton returned a Nick Mullens interception 30 yards for a touchdown to stake the Eagles to a 25-14 advantage with 5:42 remaining to play. Singleton, in his second season with Philadelphia, was getting reps in his first-ever NFL regular-season game because starting middle linebacker T.J. Edwards went down with a hamstring injury.
“You don’t want to be the weak link, you want to be the strong link,” Singleton told reporters following Sunday’s game. “To be able to go out there and be able to do my job is the most important thing for this team and that’s what hopefully I did.”
Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson praised Singleton’s versatility.
“In Alex’s case, he’s the unsung hero,” Pederson said after the contest. “He’s a four core special-teams player, he’s a backup role player on defence and he just battles.
“He comes to work every day, he’s always in a great mood, he’s excitable, guys rally around him. I was happy for him to get that pick-six. A great play by him.”
After reaching the end zone, Singleton celebrated with his teammates in front of the showtime camera. Singleton’s TD prompted NBC broadcaster Cris Collinsworth to give the Stampeders huge props.
“I haven’t scored a touchdown since my junior year of college,” said Singleton, who played collegiately at Montana State. “Obviously, Sunday night you have to go find the fancam in the corner.
“We talk about that as a defence, if we score where we’re going to go so it was pretty exciting to be able to do that.”
Singleton made numerous big plays during his three seasons with Calgary (2016-18). Twice he was a CFL all-star and in ‘17 was the league’s outstanding defensive player.
Singleton capped is time with Calgary by helping the club win a Grey Cup title in 2018.
Singleton is a California native but because his mother was born in Toronto was able to secure dual citizenship. So after spending time in the NFL in 2015 with Seattle, New England and Minnesota, Singleton was deemed eligible for the ‘16 CFL draft and went sixth overall to Calgary.
After registering 65 tackles with Calgary in 2016, Singleton recorded 123 in each of his final two CFL seasons. He signed with Philadelphia after the ‘18 campaign, and despite a standout training camp was among the Eagles final cuts.
He split last season between the active roster and practice roster. Singleton appeared in 10 regular-season games with Philadelphia, seeing action mostly on special teams.
“He’s always been that guy,” Monson said of Singleton’s resiliency. “He’s one of the hardest workers in the room, always the first in and last out.
“He’s always doing the extra things in the gym, in meetings, taking stuff home and watching film … again, it’s just who he is and I think he’s going to just keep getting better. It’s just another example of if you put in the extra work, it’s going to pay off.”
A fact not lost upon Singleton.
“It’s been a long time to obviously get to the point where I get any defensive snaps,” he said. “To be able to have that come and be able to make a play for this team is what you do it for.
“As much as I enjoy it for myself, I’m happy this team won. If we don’t win, at the end you’re sick to your stomach whether you scored or not. It’s huge to get this win for the team and to be able to be part of it.”
And the more Singleton does south of the border, the less likely he is to ever return to Canada. In fact, Monson doesn’t expect to see Singleton in the CFL again.
“No, I do not, and that’s an honest answer,” he said. “I do not expect to see him up here.
“Obviously we’d love to have (him) but I’d like to hope he succeeds down there.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 5, 2020.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press