If there's one thing mild-mannered Philadelphia Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans hates, it's being typecast.

Since he arrived in Philadelphia more than a year ago, he's been disputing what he insists are false allegations that he cannot fit a 3-4 defense, which the Eagles are expected to switch to this year under new coach Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Billy Davis.

"Perception," Ryans gently reminded a roomful of reporters for the umpteenth time on Thursday at the team's NovaCare Complex. "It was a big perception that DeMeco doesn't fit the 3-4, 4-3, whatever. I played in that defense, in the [Houston] Texans' 3-4 defense, when we were the No. 1, No. 2 defense in the league. So if I didn't fit in there then we wouldn't have been that highly ranked."

When the Texans switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips in 2011, Phillips installed a scheme that called for only one linebacker on the field in obvious passing situations. Ryans wasn't that player.

So Houston traded Ryans to the Eagles last year because they couldn't afford to pay him the $6 million a year his contract called for to be on the field mostly on just first and second downs.

The Eagles are in a different situation,. They cannot afford not to pay Ryans to stick around a second year and help them get their defense turned around after some puzzling and giant backward leaps in former head coach Andy Reid's final two seasons.

Kelly considers him an asset, and that's all that matters.

"A physical player, obviously the leader of the defense in terms of getting guys lined up", Kelly said. "Plays the game the way you want it to be played. From listening to other people in the building, there's a quality about him that you want to be around him."

Kelly has not publicly committed to a defensive scheme and has consistently downplayed the significance of the alignment.