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.
With the offense behind us it's time to move onto the defense. We start today with the defensive tackles.
Brodrick Bunkley, Jervonte Jackson, Dan Klecko, Trevor Laws, Mike Patterson
I'll also add Darren Howard and Victor Abiamiri to the list. Neither are DTs, but both will spend some time playing inside in certain packages.
There's not too many starting jobs up for grab on this Eagles team and DT isn't one. Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley will start after a very solid 2008 that saw the Eagles defense finish 3rd overall and 4th against the run. While Bunkley and Patterson didn't provide much of a pass rush combining for just 2.5 sacks, but they did prove to be immovable objects in the run game and freed up the linebackers to make plays. There's little doubt that the development of a guy like Stewart Bradley last year was partly due to the fact that the two DTs kept blockers off him.
As a pair, Bunkley and Patterson trailed only the Williamses in Minnesota in total tackles.
Jervonte Jackson, brother of center Jamaal Jackson, was signed as an undrafted free agent.
Dan Klecko isn't a new addition, but he's back to being a DT after finishing last year as a fullback.
What to watch for
This camp is going to be about what guys can fill different roles on the interior of the defensive line. Last year when he started the year at DT, Dan Klecko did a nice job as a situational pass rusher. Can he provide that spark again?
Darren Howard actually led the Eagles in sacks last year, many of which came when he lined up at DT in pass situations. It will be interesting to see how much of that success he can replicate this year and if anyone else can fit into that role. The prime candidate would be Victor Abiamiri, who did have some success in the second half last year lining up both inside and out. However, Abiamiri should be fighting for a starting job at DE, so the focus will be on guys like Klecko and second year man Trevor Laws to spell the starters.
Previous position previews