The Eagles have overhauled their defense with several veteran additions and subtractions this offseason. Gone are DBs Sheldon Brown and Sean Jones, LBs Chris Gocong and Will Witherspoon and DEs Jason Babin, Chris Clemons and Darren Howard. The comings have been fewer in number but perhaps more significant in terms of individual impact: LBs Ernie Sims and Alex Hall, DB Marlin Jackson and DE Darryl Tapp all have chances to play large roles in Sean McDermott's defense.
The addition of Sims is intriguing. On the one hand, scouts say Sims is too short and light, prone to concussions and other nagging injuries and that he often plays an undisciplined brand of football in which he freelances too much and goes off script. But on the flip side, Sims' energy and hitting ability could ignite the defense, which lacked passion at times once Stewart Bradley got hurt.
"He's a fast, aggressive football player, (which) fits our style of defense," GM Howie Roseman said.
If the Eagles can get Sims to play within the scheme and keep him healthy, he could he a valuable and versatile weapon. His speed is rare at the position, and it could allow Sims to be a pass rusher from the "Will" spot and perhaps able to cover smaller, "move" tight ends in the nickel package.
Sims says he is open to whatever the Eagles' coaches have in store for him.
"They just told me that they want to put me at the 'Will' position," Sims said. "I knew that they like blitzing a lot, so they said on third down they need somebody to cover the tight end a little bit more, also. With (the Eagles) being in a conference where they have some good tight ends with (Cowboys TE Jason) Witten and (Redskins TE Chris) Cooley, I'm more than welcome and excited to be in that position. I feel I can fit in and do a great job with that.
"They talked to me about blitzing and also in the run game, being downhill and making some big plays. Like I told coach, whatever position you put me in, I'm ready to do it."
The Eagles potentially could have three linebackers who can blitz effectively with Sims, Hall (who flashed some pass-rush skill with the Browns as a rookie in 2008) and Bradley, who moved as well as any big linebacker the Eagles have had in years prior to his ACL injury before last season.
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