During the reign of Andy Reid, fans screamed for quality linebackers. Jeremiah Trotter roamed the middle as the last quality player at that position. Now, after seasons of failed experiments, it appears that the Philadelphia Eagles have a nice collection of players ready to make an impact. Could the linebacker position actually be a strength this season?
The interior in Billy Davis‘ front will be manned by DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. Even with Ryans having a weak preseason, he should show up under the lights in Washington. He had some issues when the Houston Texans converted to a 3-4 defense but look for him to keep his level of play as high as last season. Kendricks is a prime example of this core group. He has enough speed to cover, he can hit and he flies to the ball. Don’t be surprised to see him in the Pro Bowl this season in the first of many trips over his career.
The outside linebackers will be a different story. Trent Cole and Connor Barwin will start. Barwin is the most experienced on the roster and we’ve already seen him create a turnover this preseason. Cole will be tested in his new spot and should prove himself under pressure. Brandon Graham is another young player ready to contribute on the outside. He made his presence known throughout the preseason, living in the backfield and disrupting plays. Vinny Curry also spent time on the outside and is a lock to make the roster even as a rotational sub.
The trio of Emmanuel Acho, Jake Knott and Chris McCoy have played themselves into roles on this team. Last night, all three shined in their final preseason action. Acho played for Davis in Cleveland. He put up 23 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. Knott has 17 tackles and his own fumble recovery. McCoy had eight tackles, three and a half sacks, and a fumble recovery. These three were always around the ball, making plays and tackling the opposition.
Look for the team to cut Casey Matthews and Travis Long. With this core group of linebackers, the team is the deepest is has been in years and it is a solid base to build on for the future.