Tonight could be a big night for some of the players looking to make an impact at defensive end. The Eagles are still looking for defensive ends who can contribute to the rotation and possibly start opposite Trent Cole, who remains sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Darren Howard also will be out tonight with a groin strain. Coach Andy Reid said it was not related to Howard's prior sports hernia and he was not concerned that Howard might need a second surgery.
The Eagles had 16 players record a sack last season, second most to the Jets' 17. The defensive ends produced 30 of the team's 48 sacks.
Victor Abiamiri, a second-round pick in 2007, was in line to compete for a starting job before he injured a pectoral muscle getting ready for camp. Abiamiri returned to the field this week and is expected to play tonight.
“I’d be lying up here if I said he hasn’t missed a considerable amount of time, because he has,” defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said recently, when asked about Abiamiri. “He has to get himself going here and mentally and physically help this football team.”
Abiamiri, perhaps the Birds’ most imposing defensive end at 6-4, 267, said he was being kidded in practice about having “fresh legs.”
“I’m in pretty good shape. But you can never really simulate game shape,” he said.
Last year, Abiamiri broke a wrist on the first day of contact at Lehigh and ended up missing all of the preseason, plus the first 5 weeks of the regular season.
“I think this year, only missing 2 weeks instead of 2 months will make it a little bit easier,” he said.
On Aug. 4, the Birds added defensive end Jason Babin, a first-round pick of the Texans in 2004 who was a flop as a 3-4 linebacker. Babin, 6-3, 267, thinks he can play in a 4-3 as an end.
“It’s been a rough road, trying to get back there,” he said. “Covering wide receivers and running backs wasn’t really my forte.”
So far in camp, his forte has been getting offensive linemen angry enough to want to fight him. If the NFL had a Lady Byng Trophy, Babin probably wouldn’t win it.
“In my position, you can’t just come in and go with the flow,” he said. “You’ve got to stand out. Let everybody know that I’m here to play football.”
Against the Pats, Babin intercepted a pass but didn’t get his feet down in bounds.
Another player the Eagles would like to see more from is Juqua Parker, who thus far is best known this summer for his arrest for marijuana possession. Parker played in all 16 games last season for the Birds.
Safety Rashad Baker, from Camden, has rejoined the Oakland Raiders after being released by the Eagles.
Baker, from Woodrow Wilson High, spent last season with the Raiders and then left as a free agent, signing a one-year deal with his hometown team. He was cut Tuesday and the Eagles brought in rookie free agent Brandon Marshall, from Michigan.
Baker had three interceptions last season for the Raiders, including a key pick in their win over Tampa Bay on the season's final Sunday. The three INTs tied for the team high.
Baker was added after the Raiders released veteran fullback Lorenzo Neal.