BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- To think, Derek Landri didn't sign a contract until April. Now he’s the Eagles starting right defensive tackle.
Despite a strong 2011 season in which he led the Eagles with eight tackles for loss despite playing in only 12 games, Landri did not get any multi-year offers as a free agent tihs offseason. He kept holding out for one, but as time progressed he realized teams would be only willing to tender one year.
“I was mad as hell,” Landri, 28, said Saturday at training camp. “It was frustrating. It’s like one of those things, you can’t sit there and try to comprehend it. I got a chip on my shoulder for 31 other teams.”
The same thing essentially happened last year after the lockout. Landri had a strong 2010 for the Panthers. He started in all 16 games and recorded career-highs in tackles and sacks, but he had to wait a week before signing with the Eagles, who brought him in only after Mike Patterson suffered a seizure.
This year he arrived at camp on much better ground.
“Well, it’s always comfortable knowing the coaches know your name,” Landri said. “But at the same time the comfort stops there because you got to come out and produce.”
Landri started alongside Cullen Jenkins through most of the spring, but when the Eagles announced that Patterson would miss training camp and Andy Reid was asked who would replace him, the coach initially only mentioned Antonio Dixon.
But when the first team defense lined up for its first practice it was Landri that was in the middle. Defensive line coach Jim Washburn rotates his front four almost evenly so who starts isn’t necessarily a big thing. But Landri’s run-stopping skills may have him on the field in the Eagles’ base defense more than even Dixon, whose forte is also in stopping the run.
“When you’re an undersized guy nobody gives you credit for playing the run,” said the 6-foot-2, 290-pound Landri. “I think I’ve proved to everybody that I can play and now it’s time for me to rush the passer.”
-- Mat McBriar can’t practice with the Eagles until Wednesday, but he punted on his own today after the morning walkthrough at Lehigh. The Eagles signed McBriar on Wednesday, but he can’t practice with the team immediately because in the new collective bargaining agreement free agents signed off the street can’t practice for three days. McBriar had offseason surgery to remove a cyst from his right foot. He wore a brace around his left calf with a small tube that runs down into his shoe. He boomed most of his practice kicks and could give incumbent punter Chas Henry a run for a roster spot.
-- The Eagles need a backup center. Julian Vandervelde said he’s up for the job. Dallas Reynolds has been handling most of the backup center duties during the early portion of camp. But live hitting starts this afternoon and Vandervelde said he’ll be in there. “I worked on my snaps the whole offseason,” said Vandervelde, who has only played guard in college and the pros. “In terms of team periods yet I haven’t had a chance to get in there. … I know Dallas and I are going to be rotating in between that center and guard spot. Howard [Mudd] really wants me to start getting more and more reps there.”
-- Brent Celek attended the walkthrough but did not participate. The tight end sprained the MCL in his right knee on Thursday and should miss the next several days.