How Patterson’s Return Could Affect the DT Rotation

Andy Reid said Thursday he’s going to work Mike Patterson back into the defensive line rotation at practice for the first time all season.

Does that mean the veteran could be on the field Monday night against the Saints?

“There is a chance there. Absolutely, there’s that chance,” Reid said.

Patterson returned to practice in a limited role on Oct. 22. The Eagles get a three-week window from that date to either activate him to the 53-man roster or place him on injured reserve, ending his season. At this point, barring a setback, it looks like Patterson is in line to play.

“I hope so. I don’t know,” he said. “If he’s going to give me some rotations, then I assume that he would [play me vs. the Saints], but you never know how the game goes and stuff. So I’m hoping, I’m planning on it.”

Patterson, a first-round pick of the Eagles back in 2005, suffered a seizure during training camp back in 2011. He was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation, a tangle of blood vessels in the brain, but played the entire season (and played well). He had offseason brain surgery, but was cleared to resume football activities a couple weeks ago.

To Patterson’s credit, he’s been around the team constantly since the start of training camp – even when he didn’t have to be.

The Eagles’ current starting defensive tackles are Cullen Jenkins (60.6 percent of snaps, per Pro Football Focus) and Fletcher Cox (56.2 percent). Derek Landri (48.2 percent) and Cedric Thornton (38.8 percent) ran with the second group last week.

In general, the Eagles have been going with nine active defensive linemen on gamedays – five defensive ends and four defensive tackles. If Patterson’s activated, they could do the reverse. Phillip Hunt did not play any defensive snaps last week and could be inactive, giving the team five defensive tackles. If Patterson’s mixed in gradually for a couple series, this might be the most likely option. The other would be to go with 10 active defensive linemen, but that’s a high number.

Of course, to activate Patterson, the Eagles would have to make a cut. If they’re confident he’s going to be able to contribute the rest of the way, that move could come along the defensive line – perhaps someone like Landri or Hunt. The other option would be to stash 11 defensive linemen for a week or two. In that case, they could part with any number of players, including someone like running back Dion Lewis, who’s been inactive for six of seven games.

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