Philadelphia cornerback Asante Samuel has been downgraded from questionable to out and will not make the trip to Chicago as the Eagles face the Bears tomorrow at Soldier Field. Samuel, who has a knee sprain, is a critical component of the Birds defense, leading the league with seven interceptions. Philadelphia sits atop the NFL with a +15 turnover margin.
Joselio Hanson will start in Samuel’s place. The Eagles nickel corner hopes to take advantage of the opportunity and become yet another Philadelphia defender to seize the opportunity presented by an injury. Fellow corner Dimitri Patterson took over for an injured Ellis Hobbs and grabbed three interceptions in his first three NFL starts.
“I’m just excited to go out there and play,” Hanson said. “I just want to have fun and try to get to 8-3 so I just want to go out there and have fun and really make plays. It’s the NFL, it’s a dream, so live your dream.”
It will be a slight adjustment for Hanson, who plays on the inside against slot receivers most of the time as a nickel back.
“Being outside, you feel like you’re out there by yourself a lot more,” Hanson said. “You’re on an island, as people say, but that’s basically it, really. It’s still the game of football. I’ve been playing [cornerback] since I was young.”
Much has been made of whether or not the loss of Samuel would change the attitude and personality of the Philadelphia defense, which is predicated on turnovers.
“It shouldn’t and I hope it doesn’t,” said Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. “I hope it doesn’t because that’s what we do. We’re a defense that plays physical football and emotional football and we attack the offense. No matter who’s in there, that’s not going to change.”
McDermott knows what he’s losing in Samuel, but still believes Hanson can step in and fill the role adequately.
“You’re talking about a lot of production there,” McDermott said. “When they’re throwing the ball around, he’s nice to have on the field obviously. He’s a great player, one of the best corners in the league if not the best. There’s a lot of production, like I said. With that said, we have a lot of confidence in Hanson and what he can do as well.”
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