Odd Man Out at Defensive End?
The Eagles defensive line was as disruptive as advertised, even without starters Trent Cole and Jason Babin. Unless you’re riding the Nick Foles wave, Jim Washburn’s unit was the source of comfort in an up-and-down preseason win over the Steelers.
There is one small issue to address.
“We’ve got tons of guys,” said Darryl Tapp.
They really do. Especially at defensive end. Cullen Jenkins started the game on the outside along with Tapp. Brandon Graham and Phillip Hunt were the next tandem in, and Vinny Curry followed.
The thing is, they all performed. Hunt had a pair of sacks. Graham had a sack and two tackles for a loss, and helped force a fumble. Curry led the team with five tackles and three tackles for a loss. Tapp added a half-sack.
“Man, that felt real good. Not even having Babin and Trent, it felt real good to know that we’ve all been working real hard in camp and it seems to be paying off,” said Graham.
Washburn’s style is so physically grueling that it is necessary to regularly rotate fresh bodies into the game. Depth essentially is a must.
“We’re all starters,” said Tapp. “That’s how Coach Wash expects us to approach the game. When your number is called, you’ve got to perform.”
But is there room for everyone? With Jenkins seeing snaps on the edge, there are seven players vying for time at defensive end. Will there be an odd man out?
“Honestly, in our room we don’t think about that. We think about getting better,” said Tapp. “Coach Wash demands a lot of us – that’s where our focus is at. Talk about anything else, and he’ll do something crazy.”
In our projected 53-man rosters, Sheil has the Eagles keeping 11 linemen: Cole, Babin, Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Derek Landri, Graham, Tapp, Hunt, Curry, Antonio Dixon and Cedric Thornton. That’s under the assumption that Mike Patterson is put on the PUP. I have them keeping 10 for now – removing Dixon from the equation (though I am not sold on that, especially after Dixon started Thursday night).
Do you make a trade to add depth at another position? Would it make sense to send Tapp’s $2.6 million elsewhere while filling a need (safety, offensive line)? The personnel department has some decisions to make.
“Everybody is looking for that job. I love it,” said Graham. “It’s the competition. Everybody is working hard. Basically sky is the limit for everybody on this team, because everybody looks good.”