Philadelphia Eagles: Which Surprise Players Have a Chance to Shape the Season?

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Philadelphia Eagles: Which Surprise Players Have a Chance to Shape the Season?
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Obviously Michael Vick, Desean Jackson, Trent Cole and Asante Samuel will be the players everybody looks to when determining how the Eagles will do in 2011.  There are big holes at linebacker, corner, as well as the offensive line, among other positions.  

 

Linebacker:

 Jamar Chaney:

When filling in for Stewart Bradley, Chaney showed how much talent he really has.  He was able to find the ball consistently and stop the run, while not being a liability against the pass like Jeremiah Trotter has been in the past, and as Omar Gaither is currently.  If he continues to progress he could make huge contributions to the defense, whether or not Stewart Bradley is healthy.

Chaney showed the ability to play all three linebacker positions. If Bradley goes back to the middle and Sims leaves, as many expect, Chaney will get the nod on the weak side.  If Bradley isn't healthy, Chaney will stay in the middle. And if Sims stays and Bradley is healthy, Chaney could even play strong side.

Casey Matthews:

Brother of Clay, this fourth-round pick does not have the physical tools his brother possesses.  He does not have the great speed or strength.  He does, however, have a great football IQ, and he always makes the right play.  He doesn't go for the big hit, instead he goes for the wrap-up tackle, and he is always in the right place, rarely making a mistake.  

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Matthews could end up playing strong side if Bradley is back and Sims leaves, putting Cheyney on the weak side. Or he could end up being one of the best first linebackers off the bench to substitute into the game in the league.  His high football IQ will give him the chance to start at all three linebacker positions.  

If Bradley leaves or is injured again, Matthews could even end up playing middle with Cheyney on the weak or strong side, depending on what happens with Ernie Sims.

Brian Rolle:

Rolle is undersized but has more than enough speed. He is a tough player, but can occasionally get caught out of position.  If he works hard in the offseason and corrects some of his mistakes, he will be awesome coming off the bench, especially in passing downs.  He even has the potential to compete for a starting outside linebacker spot, especially if he puts on some muscle to be more stout against the run. 

 

Defensive Back:

Jaiquawn Jarrett:

This second-round pick has the ability to be a productive strong safety at the next level.  He is an absolute tackling machine.  One of the things the Eagles were lacking last year was a physical presence in the secondary, not only to help on the run, but to rough up some of the opposing wide receivers as well.  Jarrett can certainly add this to a secondary.

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Other Corner:

I wish I saw someone poised to breakout this year, but I am very worried. I am not convinced third-round pick Curtis Marsh is ready to be a full-time starter right away. And last year's corners that lined up opposite Asante were criminally bad.  I am not sold on Hobbs, Hanson and certainly not Patterson.

It seems that the only hope for the Eagles opposite Samuel is for someone to really come out of nowhere or for a big free-agent signing such as Nnamdi Asomugha.

 

Offensive Line:

A.Q. Shipley:

Shipley was a seventh-round pick in the 2009 draft and hopefully he will finally be ready to play at the NFL level.  He was an elite center for Penn State, noted for his football IQ and toughness, and has always been a bit of an overachiever.

Last year, inconsistent play at center for the Eagles could open up a spot for Shipley, but more concerning was the Eagles play at right guard and right tackle.  Danny Watkins is who many predicted would play the right guard position, and Shipley does not have the height desired in a tackle.  If Shipley plays well, however, he could end up at guard, allowing Watkins to move to right tackle (he played left tackle at Baylor).  

If Shipley plays well the Eagles could go from having a very suspect line, last season, to one of the best in the league this year.  Having offensive line guru Howard Mudd on the staff will really help both Shipley and Watkins.  

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