Part of the reason why last year’s team struggled against the run was due to the loss of Antonio Dixon.
The fourth-year defensive tackle entered last season as the Philadelphia Eagles' best run-stuffer, and in Jim Washburn’s “wide-nine” scheme he was expected to flourish and even develop some pass-rushing skills.
Instead, a triceps injury landed him on disabled list after Week 4 and limited him to only 86 snaps.
Even though he entered free agency as an injury concern, the Eagles still had high hopes for him and wanted him to return.
By placing a second-round tender on the restricted free agent, Philadelphia was hoping to keep other teams away from him—which worked as both sides eventually agreed to a one-year deal
As a defensive line coach, Washburn has a reputation for rotating his defensive linemen in order to keep them fresh throughout the duration of the game.
Last season, nine defensive linemen received 150 or more snaps of action in Washburn’s system. Although part of this was due to injury, I assure you that it was also by design as well.
Dixon’s return should find himself in an expanded role for the 2012 season.
Starting defensive tackle Mike Patterson is recovering from off-season brain surgery, while Trevor Laws and Derek Landri remain unsigned as free agents.
This means that Dixon could potentially find himself in a starting role.
Whether or not this happens, it’s all but certain that his presence will help bolster the run-stopping abilities of the defensive unit and mask some deficiencies that lie at the linebacker level.