An Opening For Casey Matthews?

Andy Reid on Wednesday said that, assuming health, Akeem Jordan is his starting weakside linebacker. Jordan missed the last two games with a hamstring injury but is expected to be a go against Detroit this Sunday.

What is Plan B?

“We’ll just see. We have a variety of choices there because all those guys play all the positions, depending on that situation,” Reid said.

Jamar Chaney started at  WILL in Jordan’s absence with mixed results. Reid did not commit to Chaney being the backup there this week. That leaves open the possibility that Casey Matthews is in the mix.

Matthews played three snaps against the Steelers when Mychal Kendricks left briefly with a sprained ankle. He made two tackles in his brief appearance.

“I went to WILL so it was a little different. But they made it pretty simple,” said Matthews. “I was just fortunate to make a couple plays.

“I don’t know what it means going forward. Hopefully it meant something. It’s hard to tell.”

Matthews anticipates that he’ll continue to take reps as the backup middle linebacker behind DeMeco Ryans and that Chaney will remain the second option at weakside linebacker, though he hadn’t been told the plan as of Wednesday morning.

“It’s whatever the coaches want,” said Matthews. “I can only go out and take advantage of whatever limited opportunities I have.”

Matthews has settled in after a turbulent rookie season that saw him move from the middle to the outside and then ultimately, the bench. Now out of the starting lineup and the spotlight, the Oregon product has his feet more firmly under him and is hoping for another shot.

“Things have been coming easier in practice, rep wise, understanding what my responsibilities and why I have them,” said Matthews. “Last year was a little different. I understand why people are going to certain spots, things like that. Another year in the system just makes it that much easier, makes you more comfortable . And when you’re comfortable, things slow down.”

LB Review: Eagles’ Run Defense Falters

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Jamar ChaneyHere’s a player-by-player review of the Eagles linebackers after having re-watched Sunday’s game.

DeMeco Ryans – The coaches credited him with a season-high 12 tackles, and while Ryans had some good moments, this was not his best outing. Steelers fullback Will Johnson got the best of Ryans on a few occasions. One was the Rashard Mendenhall 24-yard run that was called back for an illegal formation penalty. Another was his 17-yard run. And a third was Mendenhall’s 9-yard run. We’ll get a better look at Ryans in coverage once the All-22 comes out, but it looked like he got beat by tight end Heath Miller on a 15-yard completion near the end of the first half. According to Pro Football Focus, Ryans blitzed five times. He delivered a big hit on Ben Roethlisberger as he let go of the ball in the second. Steelers offensive linemen didn’t like the gesture and got in Ryans’ face after the play. Ryans hit Roethlisberger again on the 3rd-and-4 completion on the final drive.

Mychal Kendricks – Up and down game for Kendricks, who left the game briefly in the second half after suffering an ankle injury. Early on, he combined with Cullen Jenkins to stop Mendenhall for no gain. And Kendricks had good coverage on Emmanuel Sanders on a first-quarter incompletion. He also brought Isaac Redman down after a gain of 1 in the first. But not a good series in the second. He fell for the Roethlisberger fake lateral on a 9-yard run. And later on the drive, Kendricks had a chance to bring down Mendenhall one-on-one, but couldn’t make the play, as he ran in for a 13-yard touchdown. Later, he got taken down by guard Ramon Foster on Mendenhall’s 9-yard run. Kendricks blitzed three times. He had a chance to sack Roethlisberger in the second but couldn’t bring him down. And in coverage, it looked like he lost track of Jerricho Cotchery on the 7-yard red-zone completion in the second.

Jamar Chaney – Not a good game for Chaney, who started at WILL and was on the field for 36 snaps. The coaching staff did not credit him with a tackle. He was blocked by center Maurkice Pouncey, allowing Mendenhall to pick up 17 yards in the third. He couldn’t get off his block on Mendenhall’s 9-yard run and was blocked again on Redman’s 13-yard run. Chaney probably got away with a hold on Mike Wallace in coverage in the third. There were some good moments. He got in the backfield to help stop Redman for no gain in the third. And Chaney made a good read to help break up a screen to Mendenhall in the third.

Casey Matthews – He only played three snaps, filling in for Kendricks, but Matthews had two tackles. He brought Redman down for no gain in the third. And again after a 4-yard gain on the next play. In coverage, it looked like Matthews might have lost track of Miller, but Roethlisberger’s throw was off-target on third down in the red zone in the fourth.

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LB Review: Kendricks An Unsung Hero

Philadelphia Eagles LB Mychal KendricksIt was an up-an-down day the for linebackers Sunday against the Giants. That is particularly true for DeMeco Ryans. 

Here’s the player-by-player breakdown of the ‘backers, after re-watching the game.

Jamar Chaney

Chaney got the start at weakside linebacker for the injured Akeem Jordan and was on the field for a total of 30 snaps, or 44 percent of the time. Overall he appeared to have a solid outing. On the Giants’ first offensive series Chaney got penetration and dropped Andre Brown for no gain. Later in the quarter he made a good read on a Henry Hynoski run and came up with the tackle after a four-yard advance. There were times when Chaney couldn’t get off his block. However, he didn’t give up any backbreaking plays, and acquitted himself fairly well in both run and pass defense.

Mychal Kendricks

Kendricks played all but three snaps against the Giants. He got beat by Martellus Bennett along the right side in the first quarter and then failed to bring the big tight end down, resulting in a long catch and run that was negated by a holding penalty. The rookie was left alone on Victor Cruz early in the second, and stood no chance. Cruz picked up 13 yards on the play. Kendricks had a nice one-on-one tackle on Hynoski in the flat on a third-quarter swing pass that went nowhere.

Some of his best work came late in the game. With the Giants facing a 2nd-and-10 on their own 35 on the their final drive of the game, Eli Manning got a low snap from center David Baas and had trouble pulling it in. Kendricks recognized this and left his defender to rush the quarterback. Manning was forced to throw it away.

His biggest play of the night went largely unnoticed. On the Giants’ last play before attempting the 54-yard field goal, Manning rolled right and threw into double-coverage deep along the sideline. That’s because his closer option, Bennett, was blanketed by Kendricks. Bennett actually stayed in to chip before breaking out on the route, and Kendricks read it perfectly.

DeMeco Ryans

Ryans played all 68 snaps Sunday night. The veteran middle linebacker was strong against the run. He bottled up Ahmad Bradshaw for a short gain early in the second and was routinely around the ball.  On a 3rd-and-4 midway through second, Ryans came unblocked on a blitz and  forced Manning to throw it away.

It was not Ryans’ finest night in pass defense. He was in the area for Cruz’s 14-yard TD reception in the third.  As Cris Collinsworth pointed out, the scheme was designed to trick Manning into thinking he had a one-on-one matchup between Cruz and Brandon Boykin, when in reality Ryans was setting a trap. He did not get to the proper space in time, however, and Manning fired a quick pass between the two defenders for the score.

He was also the closest defender to Bear Pascoe on the tight end’s six-yard touchdown. Ryans vacated the middle to go to Bennett, who was already covered by Nate Allen. Manning found the open receiver once again.

 Brian Rolle

Rolle was one of several Eagles to have a rough night on kick return coverage, as he got swallowed up by New York blockers on a couple occasions. He was released on Tuesday.

Chaney Gets Nod Over Rolle At LB

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Jamar ChaneyWith Akeem Jordan nursing a hamstring injury, Jamar Chaney will get the start at WILL linebacker Sunday night, according to Reuben Frank of

When Jordan went out last week against the Cardinals, Brian Rolle replaced him. But Chaney will get the nod against the Giants.

The Eagles have been in their base defense about 45 percent of the time through the first three weeks. Before the season started, Juan Castillo speculated that we could see the linebackers rotate quite a bit, but that hasn’t been the case. DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks have been three-down players, and that will continue as long as they’re healthy.

The Giants, meanwhile, have gone with at least three wide receivers on 58.9 percent of their offensive snaps. Those are the plays where Brandon Boykin will come in and Chaney will head to the sidelines.

A 16-game starter in 2011, Chaney has played just one defensive snap through three games. Jordan has been OK so far, but the truth is, if Chaney plays particularly well, he has a chance to hold on to the job.


The following players did not practice today: safety Colt Anderson (knee); long-snapper Jon Dorenbos (ankle); left tackle King Dunlap (hamstring); and Jordan (hamstring).

Everyone else, including Jeremy Maclin , Riley Cooper and Fletcher Cox, was listed as a full participant.

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Vick, Eagles Eager To Welcome Back Real Refs

Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick.News of a possible end to the NFL-referee standoff broke while reporters were in the Eagles locker room. Here is a sampling of the players’ reaction:


“It’s great to have the regular refs back. Nothing against the replacement officials; they did the best they could, you’ve got to understand that. This is the NFL and things can become a little crazy and a little different. It happens fast and if you’re not used to it, it’s hard to adjust. My hat’s off to them. They did the best they could.”


“I think it’s very important. You’ve seen some of the things that have gone on in those games. Just for you to prepare all offseason to get ready, get in shape , going through training camp. The preparation we’re putting in right now for the Giants. Not saying that they decide games, but to have something happen like that against the Packers, that’s tough for guys who prepare the whole week and have it happen like that. So it’s good to get those guys back.

“I was hoping [the blunder in the Packers game] would end it. It was sad that it happened to the Packers. One game can keep you out of the playoffs; hopefully it won’t happen to them. Hopefully it’s finally over and we can get the refs back to what they do best, and we can get back to what we do best — not worrying about that and just playing ball.”


“That would be good, good for the game. You hate to see those kind of things determine the outcome of the game like what happened recently. We’ve done everything we could not to let it impact how we play, not let it impact our focus most importantly. If they get it done, it is better for the safety and integrity of the game, for sure.”


“We can’t really control that. If we sit here and waste all our energy on that, we’re going to get whooped by the Giants. We have to focus on practicing today, getting ready for these guys. If we have the regular refs then great, I would love to have them back. If we don’t, we still have to prepare for them like we would for any other team.”

Eagles LB Review: DeMeco Ryans, Difference-Maker

Here’s a player-by-player review of how the Eagles linebackers performed Sunday against the Browns, after having re-watched the game. Click here to find all of the game reviews.

DeMeco Ryans – Not sure his debut could have gone any better. According to stats kept by the team, Ryans led the Eagles with nine tackles (eight solo). Perhaps more impressive is that three of those were for loss. In other words, he wasn’t just solid. He was a play-maker. Ryans made a great tackle on tight end Benjamin Watson, stopping him 1 yard short of a first down on 3rd-and-4 in the first. He got behind the line of scrimmage and dropped Trent Richardson for a loss on 3rd-and-1 in the second. He again dropped Richardson for a loss on the next possession. In the third, Ryans stopped Richardson after a 1-yard gain. He was not fooled by play-action and got in Brandon Weeden’s face as the QB threw incomplete in the third. Ryans helped Cullen Jenkins drop Richardson for a 3-yard loss in the red zone in the third. And he stuffed Richardson for a 1-yard loss in the fourth. In coverage, Ryans got blocked on a screen to Brandon Jackson that went for 14 yards in the fourth. He had a tough matchup against Josh Gordon in the slot in the third and got beat for a 12-yard completion. But overall, he was outstanding. Andy Reid said he wasn’t sure if Ryans would be ready to stay on the field in the opener after being primarily a two-down player last season with Texans, but that wasn’t an issue. He played 60 of 62 snaps and was on the field in base, nickel and dime packages. Ryans went after the quarterback twice.

Mychal Kendricks – Strong debut for the rookie. He finished with five tackles (four solo) and one for loss. Kendricks got off a block and tackled Richardson after a 2-yard gain in the first. He made a nice tackle on Mohamed Massaquoi in coverage short of the first down in the second. He got away from an offensive lineman and brought Richardson down after a 5-yard gain on a screen in the third. In coverage, Kendricks got lucky on one play in the red zone. The tight end beat him to the corner, but Weeden missed the throw, or it would have been a touchdown. The refs called holding on the play, but didn’t announce a number. It could have been on Kendricks. Later on that possession, he broke up a pass for Watson, but it popped up in the air and the tight end came down with it. Kendricks blitzed once in the first. He played 55 of 62 snaps, only coming out in dime (one LB, six DBs).

Akeem Jordan – The Eagles were only in base with three linebackers on 20 plays, or 32 percent of the time. Jordan started at WILL and was fine. He was in on a tackle on Richardson for no gain in the second. And he assisted Ryans in bringing down Richardson after a gain of 1 in the third. He was a beast on special teams with four tackles in coverage.

Brian Rolle – He played a couple snaps in dime in the first half. The guess here is that Reid didn’t want to wear Ryans out early on and thought giving him a breather in the first half was a good idea. As I mentioned above, Ryans replaced Rolle in dime later on. Rolle had a special-teams tackle and was the first man down in coverage three times.

Jamar Chaney – The gamebook credited him with one snap, but I missed it.

Casey Matthews – Played exclusively on special teams.

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Eagles Snapshot: LB Preview

Throughout the course of the week, we’ll be providing position-by-position previews of the entire Eagles roster. Click here to get to all of them. Today, we cover the linebackers.

The roster: DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Akeem Jordan, Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews, Brian Rolle.

No real surprises on the roster. Keenan Clayton, a fourth-round pick in 2010, never met expectations and was let go. The starters are Ryans in the middle, Kendricks at SAM and Jordan at WILL.

Player in the spotlight: DeMeco Ryans

The Eagles swapped third-round picks and gave up an additional fourth rounder to acquire Ryans from the Texans back in March, and the move made a lot of sense. After last year’s struggles, go out and get a veteran middle linebacker who will command respect from his peers, help reduce confusion and play behind the wide-nine.

The only problem? We’re two days from the opener, and it’s unclear whether Ryans is a three-down player. He stayed on the field in nickel during OTAs, mini-camps, training camp and the preseason. But on Thursday, players said Chaney was joining Kendricks in certain nickel packages. As we’ve mentioned several times, the Eagles were in nickel about 47 percent of the time last season. If Ryans is on the sidelines for those snaps, he won’t be able to provide the leadership and direction we’ve heard about all summer.

Ryans was a step behind in the first preseason game, but played better against New England. He played limited snaps against Cleveland.

We’ll see how things play out Sunday, but the fact that the Eagles are considering shaking things up so close to the opener raises some questions.

You should also know that…

* Kendricks is the smart bet to be the Eagles’ best linebacker this season. He had an outstanding preseason and looked good at training camp. Kendricks had a very strong combine, but that was just one line on his resume. He was a very productive linebacker at Cal, earning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors last season.

* Rolle had been playing at WILL until a couple weeks ago when Jordan took over. We’ll see if he holds on to that spot. Chaney could get a chance to replace him, Rolle could get back in the mix, or Matthews could be given an opportunity.

* Right now, in the base defense, Chaney is practicing as the second-team SAM, and Matthews is the second-team middle linebacker, behind Ryans. Matthews had been dealing with a high ankle sprain, but has been a full participant in practice this week.

* According to Football Outsiders, the Eagles were good at covering opposing tight ends last year (fourth in the league), but poor against running backs (29th).

* Special teams is always a factor with linebackers. Jordan and Matthews (14 tackles and 11 tackles, respectively) were both good special-teams players last season.

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Players Choose: Which Eagle Will Have a Big Year?

Philadelphia Eagles DE Phillip HuntThis afternoon, I posed a simple question to players in the Eagles locker room: Based on what you’ve seen, which teammate do you think is poised to have a really good year?

Selection was based simply on who was available. But it just so happened to be four defensive players and four offensive players. Their responses are below.

Jason Avant: “I would say Darryl Tapp. Tapp or [Phillip] Hunt. One of those guys, because I’ve seen them working all offseason. I know their work ethic, and I know their work ethic apart from here, so one of those guys.”

Jason Kelce: “I think there’s been a lot of guys that have had a really good training camp. On the defensive side, obviously a couple of the rookies have shown some good stuff. Mychal Kendricks has been outstanding. Fletcher Cox has done an outstanding job. Offensively, Damaris Johnson has looked good. Bryce Brown’s looked outstanding. The problem is he’s behind one of the best running backs in the league, so how many opporutnities he’s going to get is uncertain at this point. Obviously, Nick Foles has done an outstanding job, so there’s been a lot of guys who, coming into it, guys didn’t really know what they were going to do, but have surprised.”

Jamar Chaney:Phillip Hunt is one. I would say Phillip Hunt and probably Clay Harbor. With both of them, Clay and Phillip, [Brent] Celek was down in training camp. With Phillip, Babin was down, so they got a lot of reps, a lot of playing time in preseason games and did pretty well, especially Phillip. To get all those reps, to be as talented as they are already, isn’t going to do anything but make the transition easier coming into this year for both of those guys. Phillip had a heck of a preseason, and Clay had a heck of a preseason too. He had a couple touchdown passes. With a lot of teams using two tight ends, I’m pretty sure with just how fast Clay is, it’d be a great complement to Celek, the big tight end, and Clay, the fast tight end.”

Nate Allen: “I think Mychal Kendricks. He’s coming along real well. He’s excited about his first season and I think is going to be a heck of a player.”

Brandon Graham: “Fletch [Fletcher Cox]. For him to come in at d-tackle and to get it right away, it’s big. And I feel like he’s going to have a great year.”

[Right away?]

“Right away. First game of the season, y’all going to see Fletch everywhere.”

Evan Mathis: “There’s a lot of guys here who are ready to have a really good year. [Michael] Vick has been a great quarterback in this league, and I think one thing about him is he’s continued to grow and make progress every single day, every single year, so I expect a big year out of him.”

Cullen Jenkins: “If I had to pick one, I’d say Phillip Hunt. He’s had a pretty good preseason. He’s been out here working. He’s focused and determined, and I’m pretty anxious to see what he’s going to do.”

Danny Watkins: Probably, I’d say [Jason] Kelce. Looking back at where me and him started last year, he’s so far ahead with his football IQ, and I’m trying to learn from him. I think he’s going to do awesome this year. I’m excited for him.

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Jordan Replaces Rolle At LB With First Team

Philadelphia Eagles LB Akeem JordanSince the Eagles returned to the Novacare Complex 10 days ago, Akeem Jordan hasn’t had much company at his locker.

The sixth-year linebacker has gone largely unnoticed. Many (present company included) figured he was battling for a roster spot with Keenan Clayton, looking to continue his strong play on special teams.

But things changed today. The last question for Andy Reid during his media session, which lasted about 15 minutes, was about Brian Rolle, and whether the second-year player was still the team’s starting WILL linebacker.

“Right now, no,” Reid said. “Akeem is going to work in there as a starter.”

And so, when Jordan walked to his locker, reporters followed to ask him about his new gig.

“There’s a lot of competition in the linebacker [corps],” Jordan said. “We are all just trying to go out there and make plays. We’re trying to beat out each other, and everyone knows that there is a lot of competition. We were just going out there every day and trying to perform.”

Jordan has started 27 games for the Eagles in his career at all three linebacker spots. However, this summer, he had been working exclusively with the second team at the SAM position. That’s where all seven of his starts came in 2011.

But back in 2009, Jordan turned in perhaps his most productive stretch as a pro, starting the first eight games at WILL before suffering a hyper-extended knee against the Cowboys. He came back for the final four games, but didn’t play as well and got mixed in at middle linebacker.

In 2010, Jordan was moved to the SAM spot, after the Eagles acquired Ernie Sims in the offseason. He beat Moise Fokou out at training camp, but only started three games there, and then Fokou took over.

Last summer, it looked like Jordan would not be back with the team, but the Eagles re-signed him in late July. He made the roster (which was no given at the time) and then ended up starting seven games, producing average results along the way.

If you notice a pattern, well, that’s the point. Pretty much every summer, Jordan is either fighting for a roster spot or playing time. And every summer, he makes the team and ends up starting some games.

This year, the Eagles appear to be set with DeMeco Ryans in the middle and Mychal Kendricks at SAM. But the WILL spot is up for grabs. Brian Rolle started 13 games there last year and was probably the team’s most active linebacker, leading the group with six tackles for loss. But he had his share of issues. According to Football Outsiders, Rolle missed 10 tackles and 18.5 percent of his tackling attempts. The former seventh-round pick flashed potential, but suffered some miscues as well.

Jamar Chaney is someone who could definitely compete for a starting job once he’s healthy. Chaney has been battling a hamstring injury, but has been the second-team WILL all summer. He played in the last preseason game, but was not fully healthy.

“That was kind of a knock the rust off game for him, kind of getting back to the speed of the game,” Reid said. “I don’t think he was 100 percent out there, speed-wise, so I ended up taking him out. But we know that he’s a good football player, and that’s the main thing. He can play a lot of positions for us, play in the nickel, everything that we need done. He’s going to play for us. That’s the bottom line. I just want to make sure that we don’t hurt that leg.”

Chaney started 16 games last year – two at SAM and the rest in the middle.

The other player who could get a shot at some point is Casey Matthews. Matthews is recovering from a high ankle sprain, and Reid said today it’ll be a “struggle” for him to be ready for Week 1. Matthews has been playing the middle with the second team, but he could get an opportunity at WILL at some point during the season.

It wouldn’t be summer for the Eagles without a game of linebacker musical chairs. Jordan replaces Rolle as the starter for now, but chances are, we could be talking about another shuffle in the next month or two.

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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.

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