Marcus Smith: ‘I Don’t Think There’s A Gap’

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Marcus Smith picked up a half-sack in the Eagles’ 40-17 loss to the Cardinals in Week 15. For most first-round draft picks playing in their second season in the league, that would be an encouraging, albeit run-of-the-mill, tick in the box score.

For Smith, it was the first time he recorded even half a sack in his career.

After two seasons, Smith has shown few signs that he is close to stepping into any sort of consistent defensive role on this team.

“Marcus has got to continue to get better,” Billy Davis said Tuesday. “There hasn’t been a whole lot of production yet. We’re still working, Marcus is working hard at it, and hopefully we can get some production from him.

“You have to play the guys that are playing the best for you. If there’s too big of a gap, the other guys can’t play. Right now, it’s tough to take [Connor Barwin] or [Brandon Graham] off and put Marcus on.”

But that’s not how Smith sees it.

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Linebacker Watch

How’s this for a tone-setter:

DeMeco Ryans, during the first full-squad morning practice of training camp, began asserting his authority.

“He’s very demanding, I’ll tell you that,” said Brian Rolle. “He’s not afraid to speak his mind. If he wants it one way, it’s going to be
that way.

“Today he said something to me and [Mychal] Kendricks about a certain way to play something, and the coaches didn’t have anything to say about it. Because you have a guy – a Pro-Bowl guy, a Rookie of the Year guy – if he says something, he knows, he’s been through it. And we’re going to do it just like that…It’s something that we need.”

I can feel Eagles fans rejoicing.

“Guys listen to what I have to say,” said Ryans. “I don’t have to say much because everybody wants to be great so everyone is doing all those little extra things to make this a better team.”

As Sheil noted in his practice observations, the Eagles are using several different looks at the linebacker position to start. Rolle is being prominently featured, though. He is running with the first team on the weakside, and confirmed today that he is playing  alongside Ryans in the nickel as well.

“I guess they want me out there on the field,” said Rolle. “I’m going to take full responsibility and help DeMeco out as best I can, and help this defense move forward.”

Jamar Chaney, who played WILL in college and was originally drafted for that spot, will try and challenge Rolle for a starting gig. He came up with a nice interception in Thursday’s practice, which Andy Reid took notice of.

“I think [weakside] is a more natural position for him,” said Reid.

If it is Rolle that gets the nod, much will be made of the height factor. He is 5-10 and Kendricks is 5-11. It has already been suggested that having two starting linebackers that size can create some matchup headaches.

“I think those are people who don’t play the game, or didn’t,” said Rolle. “I feel like as long as you want to you can get the job done on the field, regardless of what size you are or how big or how tall. You can be exposed regardless of who you are.”