Questions remain on defense

We learned yesterday via Quintin Demps that Macho Harris seems to be the starter at free safety for Sunday's opener at Carolina.

That, though, is far from the only question on defense. Who will start at middle linebacker in place of injured Stewart Bradley? Who will start opposite Trent Cole at defensive end?

The media was not allowed to watch Monday's 10-10-10 practice, but a defensive player told the Daily News that Omar Gaither took the first-team reps in the middle.

Last Sunday, Gaither seemed to be elevated to the first team, but then he sprained an ankle in practice last Monday. He finished the practice, but was held out of the preseason finale against the Jets. At the time, Andy Reid said it was because he knew what Gaither could do. That opened the door for second-year player Joe Mays. But if Sean McDermott really wanted to start Omar Gaither again, he would have named Gaither to the spot right away. Instead, Gaither seems to have won the job by default.

At defensive end, Juqua Parker said he and Victor Abiamiri alternated across from Cole on Monday. Abiamiri, of course, needs to stay healthy. Chris Clemons is in that mix, as well. Jason Babin seems to be Cole's backup. (We're assuming Darren Howard will play inside, as he did for most snaps last year.) Small wonder there was no room for undersized 2008 third-round pick Bryan Smith, who was snatched up by the Rams and former Eagles assistant Steve Spagnuolo after the Birds cut him.


Boy, doesn't this sound familiar. Opening game, unsure of your punt returner.


If you had flashbacks to the Eagles' opener in Green Bay in 2007 and J.R. Reed, the problem this time belongs to the Carolina Panthers.


They thought the solution was Mark Jones, who returned punts and kicks for the Panthers last season but had signed with Tennessee and was then cut. Jones hurt his hamstring with the Titans and a physical Monday revealed an unhealed tear. He expects to be ready for Week 2.


That brings the Panthers back to Kenneth Moore and rookie Captain Munnerlyn, at the moment. Each fumbled in a preseason loss to Pittsburgh last week.



The Sporting News revealed its All-Breakout Team for 2009 and the Eagles are represented with three players on offense: wide receiver DeSean Jackson, fullback Leonard Weaver and center Jamaal Jackson.

Of Weaver, TSN says, " He was an underrated offseason pickup. His versatility stands out: He is capable of blocking, carrying the ball and receiving all at a high level."

On DeSean Jackson: "For the first time since Terrell Owens, Donovan McNabb has an elite receiver."

On Jamaal Jackson: "A late bloomer, he now anchors a good young line."