Eagles' 2nd-Round Pick Kendricks Installed as Starting Strong-Side Linebacker?

Sigmund BloomNFL Draft Lead WriterMay 23, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 12: Mychal Kendricks #95 of the Philadelphia Eagles during rookie minicamp at their practice facility on May 12, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

When the Philadelphia Eagles' rookie minicamp wound down last week, Andy Reid said second-round pick Mychal Kendricks had performed well enough to earn a chance to line up at strong-side linebacker with the starters in the upcoming OTAs.

Reid stopped short of anointing Kendricks the starter. Most anticipated that that was because Jamar Chaney and Kendricks would battle it out for the spot.

Chaney was expected to miss OTAs because of a neck procedure he underwent earlier in the offseason. When OTAs opened yesterday, Chaney was on the field. One of the best position battles of the upcoming summer between Chaney and Kendricks was sure to commence.

Except Andy Reid and the Eagles coaches had different ideas. Kendricks did line up with the first-team defense on the strong side. Chaney lined up with the second team, but on the weak side, where Brian Rolle is the current starter. Did the Eagles install Kendricks as a starter without fanfare?

Chaney spoke of competing with Rolle to play the weak side after the practice, according to Chris McPherson of the official Eagles website:

"I think I'm pretty good in space. I've got the speed to do it," Chaney said of playing on the weak side. "I don't think that will be a problem. I'm going to do everything I can to be the best at that position.

"May the best man win if it's just me and him battling it out."

Kendricks provides a combination of pass-rush and coverage ability that no other linebacker on the Eagles' roster can match. Second-rounders are expected to start eventually, but every team wants the rookies to earn it before they get the honor of playing with the first team.

If this lineup at linebacker continues to be the default in OTAs, it took Mychal Kendricks less than a month to do just that.