Asante the Leader we need on Defense?


Chirpy Samuel helps enliven Eagles' practices

He will swoop in, break up a pass, and flap his gums like a hummingbird.

If Brian Dawkins was Wolverine, Asante Samuel has become the Eagles' Joker.

The all-pro cornerback has been the most vocal player during this spring's minicamps, and even though he and his coach say it's nothing new, it's certainly more conspicuous now that Dawkins has taken his superhero act to Denver.

"I'm not really a vocal guy," Samuel said yesterday. "I let my play speak for itself. What I do out here in practice is I chatter to make it a competitive environment. You see everybody's into it. They want to beat me up, beat the defense, and we want to beat [the offense]."

Whether he is involved in a play or not, Samuel can often be heard yapping. Sometimes the second-year Eagle is offering words of encouragement, other times he's a comedian, and many times he's just talking trash. Predictably, the wide receivers - often during one-on-one drills - have taken the brunt of Samuel's barbs.

"He's been chirping," wideout DeSean Jackson said. "But we give it back, too."

On Tuesday, Samuel smothered a pass intended for Shaheer McBride and danced, hooping and hollering, toward his fellow defensive backs. On Wednesday, linebacker Stewart Bradley intercepted a Kevin Kolb pass, and Samuel held out his arms like an eagle and screamed with glee.

"Before it was [quarterback] Donovan [McNabb] challenging everybody, and now Asante has jumped in from that side and he is challenging back, and I kind of like that," coach Andy Reid said Tuesday. "I like that competition and enthusiasm. It kind of keeps things alive."

When Dawkins roamed the practice fields at the NovaCare Complex, he did so with intensity few could match. After the safety signed with the Broncos in the off-season, Eagles players and coaches said his leadership would be missed. Samuel hasn't tried to replicate Dawkins now that there's a void.

"It's hard to replace a guy and expect for another guy to come in and do what he did," Samuel said. "Everybody is their own person."

Samuel, now in his seventh year in the NFL, is among the most tenured on defense. He said he was more concerned with improving upon his first season as an Eagle after he was signed as a blockbuster free agent.

"Being here a year under this system - it's a complex, confusing system - is definitely very challenging," Samuel said. "But I'm comfortable now. . . . Hopefully I can have a better season than I had last year."

From the Inquirer:

Is Asante emerging as the new leader on defense, or do you guys think someone else will step up, or maybe more than one person?


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