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A Look at the Eagles Defense Heading into Training Camp

A Look at the Eagles Defense Heading into Training Camp
The Super Bowl aside, when the Eagles allowed Tom Brady to throw for 505 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in their 41-33 win over New England in Super Bowl LII, the defense had an exemplary season.
During the regular season the Eagles were fourth in the NFL scoring defense, allowing 18.4 points per game and fourth in total defense, allowing 306.5 yards per game.
It’s not a stretch to suggest that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s unit could be as good if not better than last season.
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox has the ability to vie for NFL defensive player of the year. Surprisingly, Cox was the only Eagles defender to make either the first or second NFL all-pro team. He was a second-team choice.
One of the keys is having defensive end Brandon Graham, coming off his best season, returning to form after off-season ankle surgery.
Graham, noted for having the key strip-sack of Brady in the Super Bowl, in which teammate Derek Barnett recovered the fumble, has the versatility to play inside or outside, although he is much more effective at end.
Barnett, the first round pick from 2017, should have a much more prominent role. The Eagles have added proven veterans Michael Bennett and Halota Ngata to the defensive line and both will be needed, especially with Tim Jernigan out for an unknown amount of time due to a back injury.
Defensive end Chris Long, who played extremely well, is looking for his third straight Super Bowl after winning with New England for the 2016 season and the Eagles last year. Third-year tackle Destiny Vaeao could have a more prominent role.
Linebacker is iffy, especially since free agent Paul Worrilow suffered a season-ending knee injury during the offseason, and Jordan Hicks is returning from a season-ending Achilles tendon injury that he suffered in the seventh game. Plus, starting linebacker Nigel Bradham will miss the opening game because of an NFL suspension for an off-field incident that occurred in 2016.
Nathan Gerry, who was a safety at Nebraska, could figure into the linebacking mix.
The secondary appears to have depth with Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby at cornerback and Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins at safety.
Plus the Eagles will get an entire season of Sidney Jones, the 2017 second round pick, who missed virtually the entire season while recovering from an Achilles tendon injury. Whether he starts or not, Jones should see plenty of action. Rasul Douglas, last year’s third round pick, should also push for time at corner.
Barring injury, this has the makings of another strong unit.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by bertoncelj / Shutterstock.com

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