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Philadelphia Eagles' Offensive Line Must First Stop the Packers' B.J. Raji

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 20: Heath Miller #83 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball from BJ Raji #90 of the Green Bay Packers during the game on December 20, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Bob CunninghamSenior Analyst ISeptember 9, 2010

Jamaal Jackson will be in the lineup this Sunday when the Eagles open their season against the Green Bay Packers. That's the good news. The bad news, however, is that Jackson will likely struggle with the powerful youngster.

Just over eight months is probably not enough time for Jackson's knee to have healed 100 percent, so they can't expect him to play at his highest level. Therefore, they must assume he's going to have some problems with Raji and give him some help.

And because the Packers run a 3-4 defense, helping Jackson is actually fairly easy. Even on run plays, either guard should be able to chip Raji and still get to the second level without much of an issue. The playside guard just has to get a good shot at Raji's shoulder and then Jackson should be able to take over from there.

Pass plays should be just as easy. Unless the inside linebacker blitzes, Todd Herremans or Nick Cole (or Reggie Wells) should be able to help Jackson slow Raji's initial rush while still paying attention to what's going on in their own gap.

Jackson shouldn't need a whole lot of help, but just assuming that he'll be fine with Raji by himself could turn into a fatal flaw. If Donovan McNabb was unable to avoid pressure coming right up the middle, Kevin Kolb will have absolutely no chance and will get knocked around.

If Raji is allowed to get penetration on run plays, LeSean McCoy will have no choice but to bounce every carry, which will lead to a lot of negative plays.

Once they stop Raji and any inside penetration, Kolb should be able to make some plays against a depleted Green Bay secondary, and McCoy should be able to find some inside running room.

It might not end in the Birds winning the game, but allowing Raji to be disruptive in the middle of the line of scrimmage would absolutely assure a loss.

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