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Eagles still tweaking DL rotation

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Posted Sept. 18, 2010 @ 10:58 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

The Eagles were a pressure team when former coordinator Jim Johnson was calling the defensive signals, and they should remain one under the guidance of current coordinator Sean McDermott. Last season featured inconsistent pressure, and one of the team's goals heading into 2010 was finding a better mix of upfield players to complement star pass-rushing DE Trent Cole.

Through one game, the results remain unclear.

First-round DE Brandon Graham had some nice moments in the preseason, but he registered nary a tackle nor a sack in the opener, although one pressure he provided did result in Nate Allen's interception. Graham is being moved around the defensive line, from his end spot to inside in obvious passing situations.

McDermott said Graham's role will change from week to week, but the coach plans on putting Graham in different spots to take advantage of mismatches and his ability to get to the quarterback. "The presence inside, it's important to have a push, when you have speed on the outside. And Brandon gave us that push on the inside," McDermott said.

As it has been for the past few seasons, starting DTs Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley will remain primarily first- and second-down players. That also means they could see fewer snaps against teams that throw the ball a significant number of times, even on early downs. McDermott stressed, however, that they both remain a vital part of every defensive game plan the Eagles put together.

Ideally, Philly would like to find one more pass-rush threat — from the inside or the edge — who can prevent the team from having to blitz too much.

That player was expected to be Darryl Tapp, who was acquired from the Seahawks to be an outside-inside rush player but who currently sits fifth on the DE depth chart.

Ahead of him are Antwan Barnes, who came over from the Ravens prior to the first week of the season, and rookie Daniel Te'o-Nesheim. Barnes got the nod over both Tapp and Te'o-Nesheim in Week One, but McDermott said he plans on getting Tapp more involved soon.

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