Who makes the roster: Defensive tackle

Yesterday’s post teased to today’s look at who makes the 53-man roster at the quarterback and specialist positions. But there’s no fun in predicting the cuts in those areas because, well, there aren’t going to be any cuts.

So before we get to shoot fish in a barrel, here’s a summation of how things look at …


For the fourth straight season, Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley will be the Eagles’ starting defensive tackles. In this day and age, that’s an eternity. There was some off-season clamoring that the Eagles should get a defensive tackle, particularly one that can pass rush. But with Patterson and Bunkley more than serviceable in stopping in the run and the Eagles more and more comfortable moving their ends inside on passing downs, it wasn’t a move necessary for the team’s defensive scheme.

There’s also the possibility that the Eagles have a pass-rushing tackle already on their roster. Trevor Laws came with that tag when the Eagles drafted him in the second round two years ago. He’ll tell you to this day that he prefers getting after quarterbacks more than run stopping. But youth, injuries, and perhaps motivation, stunted Laws’ growth.
He came into this camp, however, healthy and seemingly rededicated and looked to be both early on. His effort eventually landed him on the first team nickel defense. But he seemed to tail off as camp broke and hasn’t done much in the first two preseason games. As a result, rookie ends Brandon Graham and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim have been the nickel tackles.

Graham is probably a sure bet to keep that spot, but Te’o-Nesheim isn’t and Laws could easily find his way back. Before camp he was one of the names being tossed around as the possible annual surprise cut, but he’s probably done enough to stick around, and being a second-round pick probably gives him one more year of grace.

Antonio Dixon was a pleasant surprise last year as an undrafted rookie. He was gassed by the end of the season, but hit the gym in the off-season and lost about 10 pounds. A mid-camp concussion kept him on the sidelines for an extended period, but the Eagles know what they have in Dixon and that’s a tackle that clogs running lanes.

Rookie Jeff Owens appears to be below the cut line with the Eagles normally taking just four tackles. He showed that he could get by guards in one-on-one drills during camp But he has had trouble transferring that skill to game time when you can’t just pin your ears back and rush.

It’s not outside the realm of possibilities that the Eagles keep five tackles, but I think they’ll cut Owens and try and keep him on the practice squad for the time being.

Keeps the playbook: Patterson, Bunkley, Laws and Dixon.
On the bubble: Owens.
Call your agent: Boo Robinson.


Keeps the playbook: Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick and Mike Kafka.
On the bubble: None.
Call your agent: None.


Keeps the playbook: kicker David Akers, punter Sav Rocca and long snapper Jon Dorenbos.
On the bubble: None.
Call your agent: None.

Tomorrow: defensive end.