5 Philadelphia Eagles Role Players Who Will Be Crucial to Team Success in 2012
Michael Vick is likely to get injured, as he has played just one full season since he was selected first overall in the 2001 NFL draft.
New left tackle Demetress Bell also has struggled immensely with injuries in his three seasons.
And the Eagles rotate their players enough on defense that the team could use strong depth and stability.
Here are five role players that the Eagles will need in 2012.
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The Eagles signed Derek Landri to a one-year contract prior to last season, and he responded with a stellar year. Like I've stated in a previous article,
"In limited snaps, Landri rated as the fourth-best overall defensive tackle in the game, according to Pro Football Focus, and he’s valuable both as a run-stuffer and pass-rusher.
Landri received just a one-year deal, though, for 2012, and that has him fighting for a roster spot, given the depth that the Eagles have on the line, particularly the interior line.
Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson will enter the season as the starters, with this year’s first-round pick, Fletcher Cox, filling in as a valuable player in the rotation."
That’s a ton of depth, and I think it starts with Landri, who will try to duplicate the phenomenal season he had in 2011.
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Philadelphia passed on All-Pro defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul to select Brandon Graham with the 13th overall selection in the 2010 NFL draft, and so far, Graham is exhibiting strong signs that he may be a bust, according to Philly.com. He has just three sacks in two seasons and he never really came back from his ACL injury at full strength.
The Eagles are preparing themselves to have arguably the NFL’s best defensive line in 2012—with or without Graham. Trent Cole and Jason Babin are a pair of Pro Bowlers at the end positions, and Mike Patterson, Cullen Jenkins and Fletcher Cox give the Eagles probably the best trio of interior defensive linemen in the league. Phillip Hunt, Vinny Curry, Derek Landri and Antonio Dixon round out the league’s best defensive line.
If the Eagles can get a strong performance from Graham, though, it will make the defensive line even stronger.
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When the Eagles spent a third-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft on quarterback Nick Foles, it raised the question as to whether Andy Reid believes Foles can be the eventual successor to Michael Vick.
Foles is the third quarterback Reid has picked in the third round or higher, and the other two each became starters (or were given the opportunity, in the case of Kevin Kolb). So logic may show that Reid believes Foles is the quarterback of the future.
I have heard people criticizing Andy Reid for spending a luxury pick on a third-round quarterback when there were other positions to be addressed. However, Michael Vick misses enough time annually due to injuries that Nick Foles is not a luxury; he’s a necessity.
The Eagles were set to enter 2012 with just Mike Kafka and Trent Edwards as their backups behind Vick. Kafka was a fourth-round pick of the team in 2010, and he has spent the last two seasons as the third-string quarterback. He’s a master of the offense but he lacks the physical tools to excel in this league.
Meanwhile, Edwards is a former Buffalo Bills castoff who will be trying to rejuvenate his career with the Eagles, but he probably won’t make the team, especially now that the Eagles drafted Foles.
The Eagles needed a solid backup quarterback for 2012 in case Vick gets injured, which is almost a certainty considering he’s missed extensive time the past two seasons due to injury. That’s where Foles comes in, and the Eagles got themselves a good backup quarterback in him.
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Like Derek Landri, Antonio Dixon signed a one-year deal to add depth to Philadelphia's interior defensive line. Dixon missed the majority of last season with a torn triceps, though, and he may have to battle to even make the 53-man roster.
Dixon adds stability to one of the top units in the league when he is healthy. He, Landri and Fletcher Cox are by far the best tio of backup defensive linemen in the league.
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Chris Polk was a steal in the draft, especially considering the Eagles didn’t even have to draft him. He was an undrafted rookie free-agent signee, and he will have every opportunity to win the backup running back job in 2012, especially after Ronnie Brown’s miserable year in 2011.
I think he will win the backup running back spot behind LeSean McCoy, and if Polk can be an effective change-of-pace back who can also block and catch passes out of the backfield, he will really be an asset for the offense.