Eagles Wake-Up Call: Bracing For ‘Nickel Nnamdi’

With the established veteran out the door and the job going to to a fourth-round rookie, it is fair to ask what the contingency plan is at nickel corner, and how this all might affect Nnamdi Asomugha‘s role. Brandon Boykin has essentially been handed a starting gig, as the Eagles were in the nickel almost half the time as a defense last season.

The decision to part with Joselio Hanson (now with the Raiders) and ride with Boykin was driven by both performance and finances, as general manager Howie Roseman explained.

“It was a matter of confidence in Boykin. We drafted our players, in this day and age in the salary cap era and because of the nature of the salary cap because it’s flat, you need young players to play,” said Roseman. “We have a lot of confidence in Brandon and I think he demonstrated a lot of those skills during the games and during training camp.”

Still, it is a bit of a risk to go with an unproven talent, particularly for this group. Safety is arguably the most vulnerable area on the team, making it all the more important that the man assisting in the middle is up to the challenge. Boykin has looked good so far, but the fact remains that he has never seen an NFL snap in his life.

When asked who would back Boykin up, Roseman first mentioned Brandon Hughes before noting that Asomugha has experience inside as well. To be precise, Asomugha played 107 snaps in the slot last season according to Football Outsiders, or roughly 11 percent of the time. The plan is to continue with the experiment. There is even a package called “Nickel Nnam” for when he moves inside.

Asomugha confirmed that Juan Castillo intends to keep that going, and said he has been working with Todd Bowles to learn the finer points of playing in the interior. If Boykin doesn’t perform as expected, he may be working in there quite a bit.

WHAT YOU MISSED

DeMeco Ryans knows he already has doubters even though a single down of regular-season football has yet to be played. And he doesn’t care. 

Boykin found out about his promotion on Twitter.

Chris Polk thought that he was getting released when his phone rang Friday. Then he got some comforting words from Duce Staley.

Mike Kafka is getting a look from the Patriots.

The national pundits weigh in on the Eagles’ chances, while Vegas sets odds on Andy Reid being the first coach to get fired this season.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

The AP Pro 32 Panel — a group consisting of guys like Chris Berman, Cris Collinsworth and Clark Judge — has the Eagles ranked eighth overall. Each member gives their personal ranking and take on the team. Berman seems to like their chances.

This is Eagles’ season to dream.

Lots of former Eagles are settling into broadcasting jobs. We told you about Donovan McNabb setting his sights on the NFL Network. Brian Dawkins is taking on a gig with ESPN, while Brian Westbrook and Leonard Weaver are joining Comcast. Dawkins and Westbrook are part of the 97.5 family as well.

Redskins receiver Josh Morgan basically thinks RGIII is the greatest quarterback ever assembled.

 ”He’s as fast as Michael Vick, but he can make all the throws that Peyton Manning can make and he can make all the reads Tom Brady can make. He’s got the whole package.”

COMING UP

The Eagles begin their regular-season practice schedule. Reid will address reporters a little before noon, and practice is slated for 1:50.