Eagles Wake-Up Call: D-Line Training Camp Preview

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Leading up to training camp on July 25, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. We start with the defensive line.

The pressing question: Can Fletcher Cox make the leap?

Cox has been a productive player and shown off his unique blend of power and athleticism on several occasions. But he’s yet to put it all together. The third-year player has had three different defensive coordinators and three different defensive line coaches in his first two seasons. Now he gets some continuity under position coach Jerry Azzinaro. Cox demonstrated in 2013 that he could indeed play defensive end in a two-gap 3-4 after firing off the ball as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 as a rookie. Read more »

Barton: ‘When It Hits Me, Tears Will Come Down’

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

When the Eagles’ team huddle broke to end Tuesday’s OTA, dozens of players walked toward the NovaCare Complex’s main building that houses the locker room.

Walking alone in the other direction was offensive lineman Karim Barton. He slowly traveled about 50 yards with his helmet in hand and his green jersey drenched in sweat, passing many teammates along the way. He stopped at the two-person orange blocking sled on the outskirts of the facility to get additional work in.

“The coaches can’t come out here and give me one-on-one time because of time restrictions,” he said. “So I created one-on-one time with the sleds.”

Barton is used to traveling alone, and taking a different path than most of his peers is why he’s in Philadelphia in the first place. After growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, then moving to South Central Los Angeles, he has escaped the drugs, violence and poverty that plague both areas. Read more »

Big People: Eight Potential Eagles DL Targets

NFL: Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens

Defensive line is an under-the-radar need for the Eagles going into free agency and the draft.

Here’s what we know: The team really likes Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton as 3-4 defensive ends. It would be a surprise if they’re not two of the three starters going into 2014.

But there’s a lot we don’t know. For example, do the Eagles think Bennie Logan is the answer at nose tackle? There’s no doubt they like Logan, but maybe he’s more of a rotational guy who offers versatility and plays DT in sub packages.

There are more question marks with the backups. The Eagles want to rotate bodies up front, but they just didn’t have enough talent to do a ton of that last season. It’ll be a surprise if free agent Clifton Geathers returns. And Damion Square will have to battle for a roster spot next summer.

As we mentioned yesterday, it’s no guarantee that Vinny Curry returns.

Keeping all that in mind, look for the Eagles to add bodies and competition up front in the coming months. The “big people beat up little people” motto is especially true on the defensive line.

When taking a look at the free agent list, here are eight names that caught my eye: Read more »

On Thornton, Verner And Orakpo

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles announced today that they’ve signed Cedric Thornton to a one-year contract.

Thornton was an exclusive rights free agent, meaning he was under team control. If the Eagles wanted him back, his options were to either take the deal or not play at all. In other words, he was not allowed to negotiate with other teams on the open market.

Next year, Thornton will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Eagles will be in great position to retain him once again. Read more »

Offseason Outlook: Defensive Line

NFL: Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles
This week, we’ll continue to offer offseason outlooks for the Eagles, position-by-position. Each day, we’ll answer a pressing question and rank the position on the priority scale. First up was quarterback. We covered running backswide receiverstight ends and the offensive line. Now onto the defensive line.

PRESSING QUESTION: Will Bennie Logan go into 2014 as the starting nose tackle?

McManus: I believe he will.

Overall, I thought Logan acquitted himself well in his rookie season. The Eagles felt comfortable dealing Isaac Sopoaga and handing the starting job to the LSU product, who finished with two sacks, seven hurries and 43 tackles (two for loss). He took to the techniques taught by Jerry Azzinaro and Billy Davis and was part of a young defensive front that proved to be a strength of this team. Read more »

Final Eagles Pass-Rusher Rankings

Trent Cole had one sack in the Eagles’ first 10 games. He has seven in the last five, including three against the Bears.

For most of the year, we kept track of how productive Eagles defensive players were when rushing the passer.

With all 16 regular-season games and the playoff loss to the Saints in the rear-view mirror, it’s time for one final tally.

Sacks, hurries and batted passes are tracked by the Eagles’ coaches. The Penalties column tracks instances when the defender forces an offensive holding or an intentional grounding call. Chances are tracked by Pro Football Focus. And I calculated the final column as the percentage of times a defender did something (sack, hurry, batted ball, forced penalty) to affect the passer, given the opportunities. Read more »

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