Sunday, July 13, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Eagles backups fighting for spots on 'D'

When I posted Man Up on the defense last week, I only provided observations on guys who played in the first half against the Steelers.

Eagles backups fighting for spots on 'D'

What will Akeem Jordan´s role be this season? (Clem Murray/Staff file photo)
What will Akeem Jordan's role be this season? (Clem Murray/Staff file photo)

When I posted Man Up on the defense last week, I only provided observations on guys who played in the first half against the Steelers.

But there are still spots up for grabs as the coaches continue their preseason evaluation process.

Below are some notes on how some of the backups performed Thursday night, along with overall thoughts on how the battles for backup spots are shaking out.

DEFENSIVE LINE

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Philip Hunt - He played mostly left defensive end and didn't make much of an impact as a pass-rusher, although there were limited opportunities. Against the run, he held up fine. Hunt and Marlon Favorite brought Jonathan Dwyer down for a 4-yard loss. The Steelers ran right at him and he made the tackle on a 4-yard run in the fourth.

Derek Landri - He played quite a bit, getting time with the second group in the first half and also playing in the second half at left defensive tackle. Landri drew a holding penalty with his pass rush in the third, and he hit Dennis Dixon as he completed a 14-yard pass.

Cedric Thornton - He played right defensive tackle and had some good moments against the run. Thornton was called for defensive offsides in the second half.

Daniel Te’o-Nesheim - He lined up in three different spots on the defensive line. Te'o-Nesheim made a nice play against the run, dropping Dwyer after a 1-yard gain on 3rd-and-3. He got a hand on Dixon as he completed a pass to Arnaz Battle. Te'o-Nesheim also rushed from the inside.

Notes: Hunt and Te'o-Nesheim are likely fighting for one spot at defensive end. Given that Te'o-Nesheim was a third-round pick and has shown improvement, he probably has the edge. ... I really think they'd like to keep Landri, but I'm not sure there's going to be a spot for him, assuming Antonio Dixon, Mike Patterson, Trevor Laws, Cullen Jenkins and Anthony Hargrove stay healthy. ... Don't think there's a spot for Thornton either.

LINEBACKER

Brian Rolle - He played the WILL with the second team and also in the nickel. Rolle blew up a run play for a 2-yard loss in the fourth and did a good job on a 4-yard Dwyer run. He's short, but Rolle seems to do a good job of being around the ball.

Keenan Clayton - It looked he was playing SAM with the second team, and Clayton also stayed on the field alongside Rolle in the nickel. He sniffed out a TE screen and made a tackle for no gain. Clayton rarely stands out during practice, but has had some nice moments in the two preseason games. I'm not ready to rule him out for a starting job just yet.

Akeem Jordan - Seemingly because they don't have other options, Jordan played middle linebacker in the second-team base. He penetrated the backfield to stop Dwyer for no gain. But overall, Jordan did not look much better than Casey Matthews.

Notes: If the Eagles keep six linebackers, the spots seem accounted for with Rolle, Clayton, Jordan, Matthews, Moise Fokou and Jamar Chaney. But a lot can still change between now and Week 1. ... If the Eagles keep five, it will likely come down to Jordan or Rolle. ... Rookie Greg Lloyd has been sidelined with an injury.

CORNERBACK

Brandon Hughes - He rotated in at both left cornerback and right cornerback. Don't think he saw much action though.

Trevard Lindley - He stepped in at right cornerback. Lindley was called for defensive pass interference in the third. And he was beat by Battle for a 15-yard completion in the third, although it didn't look like his coverage was bad on the play. He made a good tackle after a 10-yard completion on 3rd-and-11.

Curtis Marsh - Marsh came in at left cornerback. He bit on a move by receiver Tyler Grisham, but Dixon overthrew him in the end zone. It looked like Marsh recovered well, but a better throw would have resulted in a touchdown.

Notes: With the roster constructed the way it currently is, the Eagles would likely have to keep seven cornerbacks for Hughes to earn a spot. If they end up trading Joselio Hanson, though, Hughes could end up being one of the final guys to make it. Then again, they could decide to just go with five cornerbacks in that case. ... I think Lindley and Marsh are both on the roster.

SAFETY

Jaiquawn Jarrett - Safety is a tough position to judge off TV, and I really don't have a sense yet of what kind of player Jarrett is going to be. We caught a glimpse of his talent when he blitzed in the third and brought Dwyer down for a 2-yard loss, but still need to see more.

Jarrad Page - He was beat in coverage on a 14-yard completion to the tight end. Page had some nice moments in run support, dropping Dwyer after a 2-yard gain in the fourth and stopping him after a 1-yard gain in the fourth. It looked like he had good coverage on the tight end in the end zone in the fourth.

Notes: If the Eagles keep four safeties, it's pretty simple. Page joins Jarrett, Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman. If they keep three, Page is the odd man out. ... Coleman has played well. It's' tough to tell when/if Jarrett will replace him. ... I don't see Page getting on the field much, barring an injury. ... Given the new kickoff rules, it's going to be tough to justify a spot for Colt Anderson.


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Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
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Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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