Matthews Stays in Middle; Role for Rolle Outside?

Rookie middle linebacker Casey Matthews said the Eagles' linebackers "can always play better." (Jeff Roberson/AP Photo)

Eagles coach Andy Reid said rookie Casey Matthews remains the team's starting middle linebacker, as the Birds prepare to visit Atlanta.

The Eagles' inexperienced linebacking corps was one of the focal points for fans watching an impressive but inconsistent 31-13 season-opening victory at St. Louis. The Birds have made no move to add a linebacker; the only adjustment on the horizon is that nickel linebacker Brian Rolle, also a rookie, seems to think he will get more snaps this week.

The Eagles stayed in their base defense most of the St. Louis game, with the Rams keeping two tight ends in to block. Rolle said he expects more nickel this week, but he also indicated he could be rotating with Moise Fokou at the WIL spot in the base defense.

'The thing I look at is progress, especially with the young players. I felt that was what I saw with all of our young guys," Reid said.

"As a defensive unit, it was a little slow to start; you can expect that, especially the first game of the year, but once we made the adjustments, we felt the second half we came together and shut down what they had for us," Matthews said. "We can always play better. There's always stuff you can learn from."

Rolle said: "I'll probably work into the rotation a little more with the base ... Atlanta has a great quarterback in Matt Ryan; they'll be looking to throw the ball probably 40, 45 times a game, as well, so I'll be out there (in nickel) on those downs."


Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie suffered a slight ankle sprain during conditioning and will not practice today, coach Andy Reid said.

Darryl Tapp, who has a pector strain, will not practice. Vince Young (hamstring) continues to improve and remains day-to-day. He also will not practice.

Akeem Jordan, who has a shoulder injury, was listed as a limited participant.

A few other early notes from Reid's press conference:

* Reid said the Eagles' run defense has to be better against Michael Turner and the Falcons. Turner was held to 45 yards on 15 carries last season.

* Reid on Falcons QB Matt Ryan. "He's a great player. Every year they give him a little more and a little more and he gets better."

* On the defensive line: "We have to be better at getting pressure with the front four. I thought one of the positives that came out of the game as the defensive line."

* Asked whether he thought Winston Justice would ever be a starter again, Reid said he was not very good at predicting the future. "Right now it's Herremans' spot ... we'll just see how things go down the road."

*Reid said Michael Vick can't get caught up in the hype about returning to Atlanta, and Reid is confident Vick will focus.


Some other notes:

* Eagles punter Chas Henry was among those who felt his NFL debut was lacking. Says he'll be better this week.

* In news from Atlanta, defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux is expected to miss 3-5 weeks with partially torn ACL, his agent told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That will not help the Falcons along a defensive line that played without Corey Peters, a starter last year, against Chicago. Coach Mike Smith said Monday that there was hope that Peters would be able to play againt the Eagles. The only other DT on the Falcons' roster with significant experience is Peria Jerry. Peters was listed as limited in practice today.


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