With Brandon Graham signed, sealed and delivered to Lehigh, the battle to start at the defensive end position across from Trent Cole heats up. The rookie from Michigan will be playing a bit of catchup as he tries to unseat Juqua Parker as the starter.
Also challenging will be Darryl Tapp, acquired from Seattle for Chris Clemons in the offseason. Tapp is likely to get a lot of playing time in the rotation, but remains an underdog to start. Also making the defensive end position interesting are a slew of “tweeners” who could play linebacker or defensive end. Two of this year’s draft picks, Ricky Sapp and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim are listed as defensive ends but were talked about as possible pass-rushing linebackers on draft day.
The Eagles are unlikely to keep six defensive ends on the active roster, so someone is going to have to switch positions or end up on the practice squad. That said, there aren’t exactly a lot of openings at linebacker either, which we’ll take a look at tomorrow morning. The bottom line is that somebody is going to be the odd man out, with a lot of players who are highly regarded by the coaching staff in the mix. That makes it an interesting position to watch during training camp.
At defensive tackle, the starting spots are firmly held by Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley. Trevor Laws figures to be the third man in the rotation, although he faces challenges from a group of youngsters. Second year man Antonio Dixon and rookies Jeff Owens and Boo Robinson hope to get into the mix. However, with the depth at defensive end, the Eagles are likely to keep just three defensive tackles on the roster along with four or five defensive ends. One of the larger defensive ends could then play tackle on passing downs.
Also of note, defensive end Victor Abiamiri comes into the season on the physically unable to perform list due to a knee injury. With so much depth at defensive end, it will be interesting to see how long Philadelphia holds onto the injury-riddled Notre Dame product. Abiamiri has just four sacks in three seasons.
Training Camp Coverage
Visit InsideTheIggles.com for exclusive training camp coverage, including practice recaps and scouting reports from the Lehigh Valley. ITI’s Ryan Messick will be reporting from Training Camp throughout the day on July 31st, August 1st and August 5th through 8th. Check back often for updates, and follow along on Twitter at www.twitter.com/InsidetheIggles or www.twitter.com/Ryan_Messick.