This is the next installment in our series of 12 positions in 12 days previewing the upcoming Eagles training camp. Rookie and selected vets report to Lehigh July 26th and each day leading up to that date we will bring you a preview of a different position battle.
Another day, another legit battle. As I said yesterday, most of the starting jobs on this team are pretty much set. Linebacker is not one of them. Well, at WILL linebacker at least...
Stewart Bradley opened some eyes last year both locally and nationally and will start at the MIKE LB position again this year. Sports Illustrated named Bradley as an all pro last year and I'm sure all Eagles fans are excited to see how he develops in year 3.
Chris Gocong, who transitioned from college DE to NFL LB, has gotten consistently better over his time here. A fact that our pals at Iggles Blog have chronicled over the past year... While Gocong is still a work in progress overall(especially in coverage), he's made himself into a very good run stopper. His ability to take on a fullback and stop him in his tracks is something we haven't seen from an Eagles' LB in some time. I don't really see anyone on this roster capable of mounting a serious threat for his job this year.
The WILL LB spot is another story. Akeem Jordan took the job from Omar Gaither last year and played well down the stretch, but it should be pretty much an open competition heading into Lehigh this year.
Moise Fokou was drafted in the 7th round
Charleston Hughes was signed as a free agent from the CFL's Calgary Stampeders.
What to Watch For
The big battle should be at the WILL spot. Omar Gaither has bounced around the LB corps since he was drafted, but it was usually as a starter. He took over the starting WILL job inhis rookie year where he did a solid job, then he won the middle LB job the year Trotter was cut, and this past year he was moved back to WILL to make room for Stewart Bradley in the middle... Halfway through last year, after the Bengals disaster specifically, Gaither lost his job to Akeem Jordan. Jordan did a solid job and held onto the job, to his credit Gaither worked hard on special teams and stood out a few times on that unit. Frankly, I never really saw specifically what Gaither was or wasn't doing that caused him to get demoted... but I trust that Jim Johnson did.
It's a new year and Omar has a chance to get his job back, but he's got to contend with a guy in Akeem Jordan whose confidence and ability has grown after a half year stating himself. Also in the mix could be Joe Mays, who despite being drafted as middle linebacker, did see some snaps at WILL in the spring.
Mostly, the storyline to watch will simply be the development of this young LB corps. Bradley, Gaither, & Gocong are all 25 and Akeem Jordan is just 23. This is a very young crew that now has spent a good amount of time together starting in the NFL... The ceiling is high for these guys and I'm excited to see them continue to develop together.
Previous position previews