For a linebacker who didn’t appear in a single play on defense Sunday, Kamehameha Schools graduate Kamu Grugier-Hill found a special role to aid in Philadelphia’s 37-9 victory over Dallas.
He stepped in as the “emergency” kicker.
Grugier-Hill, who said he played soccer and punted in high school but had never kicked off, was called on to kick off four times for the Eagles, one of which went for a touchback.
He did not attempt any extra points or field goals in the game — the Eagles chose to go for two point conversions and converted three of four opportunities.
“I expected everybody to expect me to do bad anyway, so I pretty much had nothing to lose,” Grugier-Hill told reporters.
Grugier-Hill, 23, was drafted out of Eastern Illinois in 2016 by the New England Patriots but caught on with Philadelphia and has been a backup linebacker and special teams performer for the Eagles the past two seasons appearing in 22 games.
He was also prepped to play cornerback early in this season when the Eagles sustained several injuries in their defensive backfield.
“I knew he could kick,” cornerback Jalen Mills told reporters. “We call him the Flying Hawaiian. He can do it all.”
But not until Sunday had he been asked to put foot to ball on kickoffs.
Trailing 9-7 at halftime, the Eagles suddenly found themselves without a kicker.
It became an emergency situation when Jake Elliott, the regular placekicker, apparently suffered a concussion on the game’s opening kickoff while tying to make a tackle and was later diagnosed with a concussion.
Elliott had replaced Caleb Sturgis, who sustained a strained quad earlier and has been on the injured reserve list.
The next-up “emergency” kicker, Chris Maragos, had suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Grugier-Hill told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he had practiced kicking off only once before, several weeks back when the Eagles’ special teams coach asked him to give it try.
When he was summoned Sunday to begin kicking on the sideline his first attempt sailed past the protective net and into the stands, where a teammate said it hit a spectator.
Grugier-Hill said, “First kick, I kick it right into the stands. I’m like, ‘This is going to be a little rough.’”
While the Cowboys held a ceremony during halftime, Grugier-Hill stepped up his practice.
Then, when his first kickoff in the game Grugier-Hill said he felt comfortable and his subsequent kickoff was downed for a touch-back.