Five Backups Who Could Play a Significant Role for the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles

By Bryn Swartz

1. King Dunlap, Offensive Tackle:
Dunlap started five games last season and showed potential, especially in his later starts. He is versatile enough to play left and right tackle and has a chance to become a decent starter one day if he can keep his weight up around 330 or 340 (instead of the 310 he weighed a year ago). He will be one of new offensive line coach Howard Mudd’s projects for 2011.

2. Trevor Laws, Defensive Tackle:
An article on reports that Laws claims to be in the best shape of his life. A second round draft pick in 2008, Laws turned in two disappointing seasons before playing well in 2010 (four sacks, one INT, five passes defensed). He figures to be right in the mix with Mike Patterson, Brodrick Bunkley, and Antonio Dixon next season.

3. Keenan Clayton, Linebacker:
Drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round in 2010, Clayton is one of a number of young linebackers on the Eagles hoping to make a name for himself. He will need to compete with players like Casey Matthews, Brian Rolle, and Greg Lloyd Jr for playing time in 2011. Last season, Clayton played in seven games, starting one. He may have a small advantage over the rest of the team’s linebackers because he is familiar with the team’s defense, as well as position coach Mike Caldwell.

4. Trevard Lindley, Cornerback:
The word on the street is that Lindley would be the Eagles’ starting right cornerback in 2011 if the season began now. A fourth round pick in 2010, Lindley played sparingly last season, starting one game. He did provide one of the season’s highlights, clinching a 27-24 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football with a last-minute interception. He also collected 18 tackles and will have a chance to enter 2011 as the team’s nickel back.

5. Kurt Coleman, Safety:
According to a study conducted by Football Outsiders, Kurt Coleman was one of just three players in the NFL who didn’t miss a single tackle last season (minimum 15 tackles). The 2010 seventh round draft pick succeeded on all 24 tackle attempts. He also intercepted a pass and played well in two starts for the injured Nate Allen in December. Jaiquawn Jarrett and Nate Allen will very likely start at the safety positions for the Eagles next season (assuming Quintin Mikell leaves via free agency). Coleman, however, will be a valuable backup who could start a few games in case of injuries.

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