Jason Avant and Clay Harbor are spending time on the opposite side of the ball during Philadelphia Eagles OTAs. New head coach Chip Kelly is giving Harbor reps at outside linebacker and Avant reps at defensive back in case of emergency, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Neither player is expected to make a permanent switch. Both have embraced the challenge, however.
"It's one of those things that I work hard, and whatever that may be, and whatever the team wants me to do, I'll do it," Avant said. "Whatever that is - special teams, offense - whatever it may bring. I'm going to do it the best I can. I don't necessarily think it's a clouded future. I think it's an honor, in any way, for any coach to think you can do other things."
Neither Harbor nor Avant have played defense in a significant capacity since high school. Both spent time at safety, and Avant was even a highly-regarded recruit at the postion before going on to become a sticky-handed wide receiver at Michigan.
As the Inquirer story notes, trying players out at different positions isn't entirely unheard-of in the NFL. The New England Patriots have used receivers Troy Brown and Julian Edelman as defensive backs in the past, and linebacker Mike Vrabel was used as a tight end in the red zone on occasion.
Neither Avant nor Harbor is enough of a regular contributor for injuries to be a concern. For Harbor, the defensive reps may even help prolong his stint in Philadelphia after the team signed free agent James Casey and drafted Zach Ertz during the offseason.