LB Review: Competition For Rolle?

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Jamar ChaneyHere’s a review of how the Eagles linebackers performed against the Browns after having re-watched Friday night’s game.

DeMeco Ryans – Like the rest of the starters in the back seven, he only played a couple series, and Ryans didn’t have much of an impact. He got blocked on Montario Hardesty’s 6-yard run. In coverage, Greg Little got behind him in zone on third down, but Brandon Weeden misfired badly. I don’t think the preseason was enough to accurately judge Ryans one way or another. We’ll see how much of an upgrade he provides in the middle when Week 1 rolls around.

Mychal Kendricks – I think it’s fair to say he’s been their best linebacker this preseason. Kendricks was in on a couple plays against Cleveland, tackling Hardesty after a 3-yard run and knocking him out of bounds after a 2-yard gain. Expect him to be a three-down linebacker right out of the gate.

Brian Rolle – Let’s start with the two offsides penalties on the first drive. One was completely bogus. Rolle was nowhere near the line of scrimmage before the ball was snapped. The broadcast said it was him, but it had to be a defensive lineman. In coverage, (while it’s difficult to tell off of TV), it looked like Rolle might have been responsible for tight end Alex Smith, who ran free for a 20-yard gain in the first. And Rolle was a little slow picking up Hardesty out of the backfield on a 7-yard completion in the second. Against the run, he stopped Hardesty for no gain in the first. Overall, credited with four tackles (three solo). Rolle also played nickel with the second team.

Jamar Chaney – He played WILL with the second team and also stayed on the field in nickel. Chaney was in on a tackle, but Andy Reid said his hamstring was tightening up during the game. Reid also said that Chaney is still competing with Rolle for the starting job. That may be the case, but I still think Rolle is the favorite to line up at WILL when the regular season starts. Chaney’s been battling the injury and could get a shot down the road.

Ryan Rau – With Casey Matthews out, he played middle linebacker with the second group and forced a Hardesty fumble. Rau and Vinny Curry stopped running back Adonis Thomas for no gain in the third. Not going to make the roster, but got some good plays on tape.

Akeem Jordan – He played SAM with the second team and brought Hardesty down after a 4-yard gain in the first. Jordan’s had a solid preseason, and I think he’ll make the team.

Keenan Clayton – He made his case Friday night, but the feeling here is that the coaches know what Clayton brings to the table at this point. One preseason game is not going to dramatically change their opinion of him. Clayton came up with a punt block in the first. He played WILL and stayed on the field in nickel with the second team. In coverage, Clayton broke up a pass, nearly coming up with an interception in the third. He deflected a Seneca Wallace pass in the fourth, leading to a Cliff Harris interception. Poor tackling attempt on a 3rd-and-16 completion, allowing the Browns to pick up the first down and extend their drive. Against the run, Clayton tackled Thomas for a 2-yard loss in the third. He sits squarely on the roster bubble. Clayton could beat Jordan out for a spot, or if they wanted to, the Eagles could keep a seventh linebacker. That seems like a longshot though.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

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