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Defensive tackle is a spot that has become wide open for anyone on the current roster to make it through final cuts with a good camp and preseason.
Mike Patterson going down with a seizure last week really changed the dynamic of this unit. Patterson appeared to be a lock to be a starting defensive tackle with the rest of the positions anybody's game. Now it appears there are three guys fighting for the two starting spots with about five of six fighting for the four total roster sports that the Eagles will most likely keep after final cuts.
Patterson's situation is very sketchy right now. Patterson has received second and third opinions and has never officially been diagnosed with AVM, a condition where there are tangled arteries and veins in the brain that alter blood flow.
He may receive clearance to resume normal football activities, but that doesn't mean he will be back on the active roster anytime soon. I expect Patterson to take a year off and make sure he is 100 percent healthy. Coming back too soon and risking an even more serious seizure or possible stroke isn't worth the risk.
Cullen Jenkins and Antonio Dixon are the favorites to win a starting job at tackle, but Dixon has struggled at camp, and Jenkins is learning the 4-3 after having spent the past two seasons in Dom Capers' 3-4 defense. Jenkins should be a very nice fit in the Eagles defense. He has proven to be able to get after the quarterback, he had seven sacks in 11 games last year.
Dixon came on strong in 2010 but hasn't had a very impressive training camp. Guys like Trevor Laws and Cedric Thornton have looked better at times, and Dixon has jumped early on as many hard counts as the rest of the defensive combined. Dixon is still a lock to make the team but certainly not a lock to earn a starting job.
Trevor Laws is another lock to make the team but is still battling for a starting spot. His skills as a pass-rusher make him the ideal fit for Jim Washburn's scheme.
Cedric Thornton and Derek Landri are the wild cards in the defensive tackle position battle. Neither player is going to win a starting job, but both could earn a spot on the final roster if Patterson is unable to play football this year.
Thornton is an undrafted free-agent pickup who has looked impressive throughout training camp. Derek Landri was a starting tackle for the Carolina Panthers last year where he racked up 43 tackles and three sacks.
One of these guys will make the team if Patterson isn't cleared to play football in 2011, while it is Jenkins and Dixon's jobs to lose as starters although Dixon is starting to lose it.
Watch for Dixon during preseason. If he isn't impressive in preseason, Laws will be starting next to Jenkins in Week 1 at St. Louis.