Browns vs. Eagles: What to Watch for on the Eagles Defense Tonight

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Browns vs. Eagles: What to Watch for on the Eagles Defense Tonight
PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 28: Asante Samuel #22 of the Philadelphia Eagles in action against the Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field on December 28, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The third preseason game is usually a good barometer of where a team is in terms of its individual progress.

The focus of everyone's attention concerning the Philadelphia Eagles defense will be rookie middle linebacker Casey Matthews.

Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo contends that Matthews is still the man for the job to man the middle of the linebacking corps.

However, after getting manhandled against Pittsburgh, there are doubts whether or not Matthews is capable of handling the responsibilities of captaining a defense.

Look for linebacker Jamar Chaney, whose natural position is in the middle, to get some snaps in the middle at some point during this game.

Chaney is the most sure tackler of the three starting linebackers and played well in Stewart Bradley's absence late in the 2010 season.

Along the defensive line, another intriguing storyline is the return of defensive tackle Mike Patterson. 

Patterson has not practiced for three weeks since collapsing on the field due to an AVM in his brain.

How cautious will the coaching staff be with Patterson in his first game action?

This is nothing like any normal football injury.  The most similar situation would be a player recovering from a concussion.  However, when dealing with the brain, it becomes very tricky to assume the player's well being is not in danger.

The secondary will be of focus tonight against Cleveland.  Chemistry between the three top cornerbacks will be key to this team's success.  The talent is there, but if these three cannot coexist, the "dream" will turn into a nightmare.

The weak link appears to be Asante Samuel.  This is no surprise, and last week's game against Pittsburgh was a microcosm of what Samuel brings to the table: He gambled and lost, resulting in an easy touchdown. 

Samuel may be one of the best playmaking cornerbacks in the league, but he is not by definition one of the best defensive backs.

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