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Doug Pederson explains Eagles' plan for Stephen Tulloch

How does the newest Eagles linebacker fit in?

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to practice on Monday, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson confirmed the team's reported signing of Stephen Tulloch. Pederson also explained why the team signed him.

"Obviously, he’s familiar with Coach [Jim] Schwartz’s defense," Pederson said. At the same, he’s coming in to compete for that linebacker spot there in the middle. It’s just unfortunate with the loss of Joe [Walker] right now. We need depth to fill that spot.  We’ve just got to see where he’s at. What his health is when he gets here. His physical, all that stuff with players, and then slowly work him in."

Though the signing was not unexpected, questions arose about Tulloch's fit in Philadelphia's defense. The 31-year-old veteran has been a starting 4-3 middle linebacker for most of his career. While it's true the Eagles could afford depth on the inside, there isn't room for a new starter. Promising second-year talent Jordan Hicks is slated to start on the inside. At the same time, Tulloch's $3 million contract worth $1.75 million guaranteed seems to suggest he's more than just a backup. So what's the plan?

"He’s competing, he’s competing for the spot," said Pederson. "Right now, Jordan [Hicks] is the starter. It goes without saying at every position. And with the loss of Joe right now, we needed a linebacker and he was the best available for us. I look forward to working with him."

In order to make room for Tulloch in the middle, some have suggested Hicks could be moved to the outside. He could potentially replace Mychal Kendricks, who has been recently dealing with injury issues and struggled last season, at the WILL linebacker spot. That kind of move doesn't seem likely at this time, however.

"I think [Hicks] is athletic enough and smart enough, possibly," said Pederson when asked if Hicks can play at 4-3 outside linebacker. "But right now that’s not the plan."

Based on what Pederson is saying, it sounds like Tulloch was indeed signed to be a backup. If that's the case, though, he'll need to contribute on special teams. Sure enough, it sounds like that's a role the Eagles are planning for the veteran to play.

"Well, it’s something that when I get a chance to sit down with him and [special teams coordinator Dave Fipp]," said Pederson. "This is, again, a team sport. Everybody has to play a big role in special teams. And I know his past, he hasn’t played a lot of areas, but if he can come in and at least give us one special teams unit right now to begin with, and then we’ll see where it goes from there."

"But that is a position, linebackers in general, and tight ends play the bulk of your special teams. So it’s something that we have to consider and at least get him on one core team."

Tulloch's experience on special teams certainly isn't extensive. Here's a look at Tulloch's special teams snaps over the past four seasons, per Football Outsiders.

2015 - 40 (8.7%)
2014 - 6 (1.4%)
2013 - 86 (18.2%)
2012 - 96 (19.2%)

Pederson compared Schwartz having Tulloch to himself having Chase Daniel on offense. If that's the case, the veteran linebacker won't be headed into the 2016 season a starter. Unlike the quarterback position, however, it's not uncommon to have a rotation at linebacker. Given Tulloch's salary and experience with Schwartz, it's hard to imagine the Eagles won't find playing time for him.

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