All the breaking roster news is a step ahead of me these days, but I’ll try to keep up…
The Eagles will be missing their most experienced defensive tackle for at least the first six weeks of the regular season…
Mike Patterson, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2005, was placed on the reserve non-football injury list Monday while he continues to recover from offseason brain surgery. As a result, he won’t be eligible to start practicing with the team until at least week 6 of the season. After week nine, the Eagles will have to decide whether to promote him to the active roster or end his season by placing him on injured reserve.
“I most definitely plan on playing football again,” Patterson said Monday. “I feel like I’m always ready to play. I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but there is no doubt about my ability to come back.”
The Eagles also made some other roster moves Monday in order to reach the league-mandated limit of 75 players. Tackle Jason Peters, who twice ruptured his left Achilles’ tendon during the offseason, was placed on the reserve non-football injury list and is in the same situation as Patterson.
Also, the team placed center/guard Mike Gibson on injured reserve with a hip flexor injury and released rookie free agent wide receiver Jamel Hamler.
Patterson, who had started 106 regular-season and playoff games in seven seasons, underwent surgery on Jan. 26 in Phoenix to repair an arteriovenus malformation (AVM) that caused the 28-year-old to suffer a seizure during training camp last summer. The AVM was removed, but the section of Patterson’s skull that neurosurgeon Dr. Robert Spetzler removed during the operation has not yet sufficiently healed for him to play football again.
“Mike P. has a lot of heart,” Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo said Monday. “(Losing him for at least the first six weeks of the season) hurts. But we’re very fortunate to have a few defensive linemen competing for (roster) spots right now.”
And there’s the rub. You lose the lane-clogging presence of Patterson, but you may gain the extra speed and pursuit of guys like Cedric Thornton and Derek Landri… who otherwise might have been released if not for Patterson’s placement on reserve.
In other developments, veteran LB Akeem Jordan has been named the starting WILL (weakside linebacker) against the New York Jets this Thursday… But as the Sage-Lion JB and the veteran ex-collegiate and semi-pro safety Leo Pizzini have warned us, don’t trust the “depth chart” just yet…
Akeem Jordan began training camp last month as a longshot just to make the Eagles’ regular-season roster. Now he’s a starter. Why?
When the Eagles’ first-team defense was introduced Sunday night at the team’s Flight Night practice at Lincoln Financial Field, Jordan came running out of the inflatable tunnel as the new weakside linebacker instead of Brian Rolle.
“There’s a lot of competition at linebacker,” said Jordan, who is entering his sixth season with the Eagles. “We are all just trying to go out there and make plays. We’re trying to beat out each other, and everyone knows there is a lot of competition. I’ve been blessed to be put in this position. It comes with hard work and playing to the best of your ability.”
Jordan, 26, has been in this position before. The 6-foot-1, 230-pounder has started 27 games for the Eagles since joining the team as an undrafted free agent in 2007. He even started the first eight games of the 2009 season at weakside linebacker before suffering a knee injury.
When the Eagles reported to Lehigh University in late July, however, Jordan was considered the third-string player at that spot behind Rolle and Jamar Chaney. When Chaney suffered a strained hamstring two weeks ago, Jordan moved up. On Sunday, he replaced Rolle, who started the final 13 games of last season as a rookie.
“I was surprised (at the demotion) because I thought I was playing pretty good,” Rolle said. “But I don’t make the decisions. It is what it is.”
But as JB and Leo have reminded us, maybe this start against the Jets is not so much a reward for Jordan, but Evergreen’s way of testing Jordan to not only find an excuse to cut him if he fails, but also to motivate Rolle and Chaney to perk up.
The Birds can only afford to keep 6 linebackers… would they really cut Casey Matthews or Keenan Clayton or Brian Rolle in order to hold on to Akeem Jordan at this stage?
It’s a tough scenario… plus Akeem Jordan’s wild card strength is he excels at special teams…but coming up big on ST lately has been Clayton, too.
No wonder that Cleveland Browns blogger we featured earlier in the summer was drooling over the prospect of snagging one or more of our LB leftovers.
On the surface, the Eagles are saying they are hoping Jordan can bring stability to a position that has been lacking consistency in recent years. They have not had a player start two consecutive season openers at weakside linebacker since Keith Adams in 2004-05. Matt McCoy (2006), Takeo Spikes (2007), Omar Gaither (2008), Jordan (2009), Ernie Sims (2010) and Moise Fokou (2011) started the last six openers. Aside from Sims, who started the first 15 games, no one else lasted more than 10 games in the lineup.
“Nothing is a given and nothing is written in stone in this business,” Jordan said. “You just go out there and give it all you’ve got because you can be switched out at any time. I think that’s the motivation right there to keep going out and giving all you got. That’s why you go out every day and play like your hair is on fire.”
There will also be a new starting defensive tackle when the Eagles open the season Sept. 9 at Cleveland, due to the absence of Mike Patterson. Either Derek Landri or rookie Fletcher Cox will join Cullen Jenkins in the lineup against the Browns.
Andy Reid also announced Sunday that King Dunlap will be the starting left tackle against the Browns. Dunlap won the job over Demetress Bell, who was signed as a free agent to replace injured Pro Bowler Jason Peters.
“It’s definitely frustrating, but there’s nothing I can do but keep working,” Bell said. “I just have to work play by play and try to get better every day.”
Quarterback Michael Vick participated in the Sunday night Flight Night practice and said afterward that he expects to be in the lineup against the Browns. Quarterback Mike Kafka, who sat out the last two preseason games with a broken left (non-passing) hand, could be back at practice today and may see action in Thursday’s preseason finale against the New York Jets at the Linc.
Is that enough preseason drama for Eagles fans yet? More to come, no doubt…