When Brandon Graham returned to the NovaCare Complex after a strong preseason game in Cincinnati, there was a pleasant surprise waiting: his name at the top of the depth chart.
"When I came back and I seen the depth chart, they had me (with the) ones, one regular, so I was right in front," Graham said with a smile.
Graham had been on the Eagles top choice nickel defensive line, but is now the front-runner to also start with the base -- or "regular" -- defense, moving ahead of veteran Juqua Parker. Graham expects to start against the Chiefs Friday.
Parker missed practice yesterday with an ankle sprain. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said Graham's promotion had nothing to do with Parker's injury.
"Brandon's going to have a shot to start and we'll take a look at it from there," McDermott said.
Graham got the job after recording three tackles, a sack and two tackles for a loss against the Bengals.
"I had the most production on the D-line, so that was the biggest thing," he said.
A little later, Graham was sitting at his locker talking to a reporter when Parker came by and placed his head on the rookie's shoulder. Apparently, the 32-year-old Parker isn't terrible upset that the 22-year-old has taken his spot. Parker was unavailble for comment.
While Graham is running with the ones in the base defense, he's still moving inside to defensive tackle in the Eagles' nickel.
MARLIN JACKSON RECOUNTS INJURY
It seems almost ages ago, but in reality it's been only three months since Marlin Jackson ruptured his Achilles tendon during a spring workout.
The Eagles safety, who was trying to come back from two straight torn ACLs when he was signed as a free agent in the off-season, saw his season go up in flames and possibly his future in the NFL when he injured his Achilles. Jackson didn't rehab in Bethlehem during training camp, but stayed back in Philly to work out at the NovaCare. That's where he was Tuesday when reporters spotted him in the locker room.
The May injury occurred indoors during a 7-on-7 drill when he was covering a receiver. Jackson pulled up lame and dropped immediately to the turf
"It felt like I got kicked in the back of the leg," Jackson said. "And I turned around and there was nobody there. I had heard that's what it feels like when you tear your Achilles so I knew right then and there what I had did."
Jackson was visibly disraught when he realized what had happened and had to be consoled as he was taken out of the bubble.
"I needed to get that out so I could move on past that and get back to work," Jackson said. "When you're at something for so long and hard and you have it taken away like that it's going to be an emotional thing. I don't think it's healthy to hold that in."
James Andrews performed the surgery. Jackson said he should be able to start practicing by next minicamp. Rookie Nate Allen, of course, was handed the starting free safety after Jackson went down and has done nothing to relinquish that spot.
WHO'S RETURNING KICKS?
Ellis Hobbs has yet to return kicks during the preseason, but special teams coordinator Bobby April said the cornerback is still in the running to do so during the season and could return a few this Friday in Kansas City. April said coach Andy Reid has yet to make a decision. Quintin Demps and Chad Hall have been returning kicks thus far.
April said there is a competition between Hobbs and Demps for that spot. The Eagles may just want to keep the chances for their starting right cornerback from getting injured to a minimum. Hobbs said he still plans on returning kicks.
"I'll be there," he said.
April also said that kicker David Akers (heel) should be fine and able to kick Friday. Akers missed Monday's practice and sat out Tuesday.
In other injury news, center/guard Nick Cole (knee) missed practice again.