One of the few diamonds in the rough that shone through the turmoil of the Philadelphia Eagles‘ struggles last season was first-round draft choice Fletcher Cox.
Despite entering a tumultuous environment that saw defensive coordinator Juan Castillo fired just six weeks into the season and defensive line coach Jim Washburn follow suit shortly after, the Mississippi State product still managed to lead the team in sacks with 5.5.
Entering his sophomore NFL season, Cox will be playing for his third defensive coordinator and third defensive line coach in two years, but isn’t approaching 2013 any differently.
“I just have to go out there and prepare the same way I always have,” Cox explained Wednesday at the Novacare Complex. “It’s a new scheme, but that doesn’t really change for me whether it’s a three technique or the five.”
Under first-year defensive coordinator Bill Davis Jr., Cox likely will alternate between defensive end in a 3-4 front and sliding inside to tackle in a 4-3, where he played primarily during his rookie season. On opening night against the Washington Redskins, Cox and his defensive teammates have the tall order of slowing Robert Griffin III.
Cox and a defense that certainly has its share of holes in the secondary could have their work cut out for them in the opener. Griffin III torched the Birds to the tune of 30 of 39 passing for 398 yards, six TDs and one interception in two late-season Redskin victories last season.
For a unit that is by and large in transition, Cox has quickly emerged as one of the cornerstone pieces of this defense. With a young corps of defensive lineman including Cox, Vinny Curry and Benny Logan, the line may very well be the strength of the defense for the foreseeable future.
Matt Lombardo is also a sports radio host on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow him on Twitter.