Some DL Talk

Posted: August 5th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 33 Comments »

UPDATE:  While in the middle of writing this column, Mike Patterson’s agent, JR Rickert, said that Mike is okay and would like to re-join the team in a few days.  I’m shocked.  No word from the Eagles yet.  They’ll have to okay anything before Mike is back on the field.  Wow.

* * * * *

Cedric Thornton is a player I was high on prior to the draft.  I projected him to the Eagles in a few mock drafts.  I had Thornton rated as a 4th to 5th round prospect.  I thought his quick burst and big frame (6’3, 309) would make the Eagles interested.       

Thornton was undrafted and the Eagles signed him a few weeks back.  I guarantee you he was a player they really wanted out of the UDFA class.  So far Thornton has played well and the Eagles are very excited about his future.

Due to the Mike Patterson situation, I think Thornton has a legit chance to make the team.  We need to see if he holds up.  Some young guys start fast and then fade.  Preseason games will also be critical for him.  Thornton must show that he could contribute if the Eagles need him to.

I haven’t been able to watch a lot of him so far in camp, but you can see his potential.  He is very quick off the ball.  One thing he has to do is learn to keep his feet under him.  Thornton is trying so hard to fly off the ball that he’s getting over-extended and blockers can easily toss him to the ground.  When he stays over his feet and balanced, you can see his power.  Thornton is big enough and strong enough to drive blockers back.

One of the things Jim Washburn likes is taller DTs.  They can affect the QB’s vision even on plays when they don’t get proper penetration.  Trevor Laws is about 6’1.  Mike Patterson is a shade under that.  Thornton is 6’3.  There’s nothing wrong with a short DT, but we’ll start to see Washburn go after some taller guys in future drafts.  That’s what he likes.  I’ve wanted a tall DL or two myself.  I don’t need the whole group to be 6’5, but I do like to mix in at least one guy with a really big frame.

It is too early to talk about Thornton’s potential.  I’m not sure if he could be a starter or is meant to be a situational player.  The fact that Washburn rotates players so heavily makes that somewhat of a moot point.

* * * * *

Someone asked the other day if Washburn requires players to be a in 4-point stance.  I don’t think it is a “must”, but I think he encourages it.  In case anyone is unsure, the 4-point stance is when both hands are on the ground (2 hands, 2 feet = 4 points touching the ground).  Some people might refer to this as a track stance.  The DL sinks his upper body and gets as low as possible.  He then explodes at the snap and rushes upfield.  He will raise up as he goes, but should keep good leverage because of how low he started.

Just watch Jason Babin to appreciate how the 4-point stance can help a player.  Babin flies off the ball and stays real low.  That makes it tough on big, tall OTs to get their hands on him cleanly.

* * * * *

Daniel Te’o-Nesheim is a player that comes up quite a bit in discussion.  He played both DE and DT last year.  He didn’t really stand out, but wasn’t 100% physically.  He’s in good shape this year.  I can’t say that he’s stood out consistently when watching practice clips.  Teo has good moments and bad.  Washburn believes in him.  That’s important.

I think Teo is going to be up and down this year.  He’ll get mixed into the rotation and more playing time will make a big difference, but it may be next year before the light fully goes on and he’s at his best.  There were mixed reviews on Teo coming out of college so he’s clearly no lock to succeed in the league.  He does have a great motor and that’s one of the crucial things to playing well in Washburn’s system.

I don’t know if he’ll get mixed in at DT any this year.  Teo is 6’3 and as I said earlier, Washburn likes to mix in some taller guys on the inside.  We’ll have to wait and see on this.

33 Comments on “Some DL Talk”

  1. 1 Kevin (RC) said at 1:18 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    Love DL talk 😀

    Could we carry 11DL?
    DT: Patterson, Jenkins, Dixon, Laws, Thornton
    DE: Cole, Parker, Tapp, Babin, Hunt/Te’O
    #11: Hargrove

    I honestly think Parker is not long for this Eagles world, but he’s always been good in the rotation.

    One of Hunt/Te”O has to make the team because of how old our other DEs are. While we love Graham, you can’t count on him moving forward.

  2. 2 Dewey said at 1:23 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    I like Landri over Hargrove, but I can’t see any way the team keeps 11 DL.

    I mean:

    3 QB
    4 RB (incld. FB)
    5 WR
    3 TE
    10 OL
    1 K
    1 P
    1 LS
    9 DB
    6 LB
    10 DL

    And that’s with only 5 WRs and only 9 DBs.

  3. 3 Dan said at 1:33 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    “While we love Graham, you can’t count on him moving forward.”

    Huh? I hope you mean PUP list or IR. Because giving up on him now is just ludacris

  4. 4 Name said at 2:07 PM on August 5th, 2011:


    Are you saying wash probably wont put the dends in at dtackle on pass rushing downs? Or are you talking strictly about Teo?

  5. 5 CVD said at 2:07 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    sorry, that was me on teo

  6. 6 Kevin (RC) said at 2:13 PM on August 5th, 2011:


    Maybe people don’t come back from micro-fracture surgery. Graham isn’t a physical freak. If he loses a step, he may not be big enough to overcome it. By no means am I’m saying he’s done. I simply believe that moving forward, we should plan as if he’s no more than a #3 end.

    DE is the #1 priority in the 2012 NFL Draft.

  7. 7 Zatoichi said at 2:16 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    Patterson’s medical condition and the injuries to Laws and VA has raised some questions regarding the DTs. I would love to see a more detailed analysis of the DL (# of roster spots, projected depth chart/rotation) from you Tommy. I’m with you on wishing the Eagles would acquire some taller DL, particularly DTs. Taller DLs can disrupt the passing game by obstructing passing lanes and batting balls. I was pleased to read that Castillo seems to be placing an emphasis batting balls. Question for you Tommy, with the DT situation appearing slim do you see the Eagles having an interest in signing another FA veteran DT/DL like Shaun Ellis? I’m not confident that Teo could play DT except in the limited situational role on obvious passing downs (he’s 6’3″ but weighs 260?)

  8. 8 Cliff said at 3:10 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    Good write-up as always, Tommy.

    But honestly, I’m sick of talking about the OL and DL. We’ve spent the entire offseason talking about Washburn and Mudd and the upgrades or lack there of on the lines.

    I guess that’s because we sort of know what we have at all the other positions, with the exception of LB.

    The player I’m most nervous about is Michael Vick. I love the guy to death. We’re from the same city. We went to the same high school. We went to the same college. I couldn’t be happier with last season’s Vick. But even I keep thinking in the back of my mind: was last season a mirage?

  9. 9 Davesbeard said at 3:24 PM on August 5th, 2011:


    We could carry 2 Te’s like we have done recently. We’re definitely gonna be cutting more talent this year than I can ever remember.

  10. 10 Tommy Lawlor said at 3:44 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    RE: DEs on inside

    I don’t think that will be a regular part of the defense. If you have DTs that can rush the passer, no need to move DEs in there.

  11. 11 Kevin (RC) said at 3:54 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    To the surprise of no one, Sapp is officially released.

  12. 12 CVD said at 4:10 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    i agree. we used laws in those situations alot last year anyways and i like the combo of laws/jenkins with cole/babin.

  13. 13 cvd said at 4:13 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    I’m not confident that Teo could play DT except in the limited situational role on obvious passing downs (he’s 6’3″ but weighs 260?)

    i agree. honestly i dont ever remeber seeing teo at DT on a first down or even 2nd down, unless it was second and long or the game was out of hand. but i could be wrong because 2 people on here have said they saw teo playing dtackle on running situations. at 260lbs in a 2gap that is tuff, but in a 1 gap i guess it isnt as bad. but i do not want to see teo at dtackle

  14. 14 ppk said at 4:48 PM on August 5th, 2011:


    I am worried about Maclin’s health and Desean’s contract situation. Vick needs some high talent wr to throw to.

  15. 15 Tommy Lawlor said at 5:54 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    RE: Teo

    Last year he played some DT in the Nickel. That’s all we’re talking about, then and now. He’s clearly meant for DE in the base defense.

  16. 16 Tommy Lawlor said at 5:55 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    RE: Vick

    Oddly enough, I’m comfortable with Vick. I’m buying into the fact that he’s bought into the program. He says the right things and seems to be doing the right things as well.

    Last year wasn’t an aberration. Dude still has special talent. I hope his skills are better this year and the offense functions more efficiently. Love the big plays, but a few more sustained drives would be awesome.

  17. 17 JonS said at 6:07 PM on August 5th, 2011:


    Where are you watching practice clips? I can’t find them anywhere.

  18. 18 DB said at 6:11 PM on August 5th, 2011:


    What’s your opinion on the lack of TE use last year? Was it that they were being used to help in pass protection? Or was is an issue with Vick running the offense?

  19. 19 Morton said at 6:12 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    Tommy: Based on what you’ve seen and who you’ve talked to that knows something about the situation, do you think there is *any* chance that Brandon Graham sees playing time at any point this year? Or is he going to be playing in 2012 at the very earliest, if at all?

  20. 20 eagles nut said at 7:26 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    We could conceivably keep 11 defensive linemen.


    QB: 3
    RB/FB: 4
    WR: 5
    TE: 2
    OL: 9

    That’s 23 definite on offense.

    DL: 10
    LB: 6
    DBs: 10

    There’s 1 more spot available. Now that spot is likely to go to another OL, TE, or WR but there’s an outside shot it goes for another DL or LB.

  21. 21 mcud said at 8:17 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    We almost always carry 7 LBs for gamedays.

  22. 22 CVD said at 9:04 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    True for the most part (I don’t recall Cole playing DT, for example), but DTN seemed to spot there pretty often, like Graham–and not just on pass rush downs. Either way, doesn’t that level of experience at DT help offset any potential depth concerns, at least in the short run?

    tommy i was refering to this and another one from awhile ago. not ur comment

  23. 23 ian no. 2 said at 9:05 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    I don’t see keeping Thornton and Hargrove unless they’re both super. In general, it’s a shame there isn’t more young talent for Washburn to work with, and Sapp had a chance if he could deal with Washburn. Hunt may be the young breakthrough.

    Based on what I read from the practices, the DL is playing well. If the front seven play well and the starting WRs suit up, then Sundays will be ‘fun days’ (to quote the Bangles).

    I made a roster earlier with 1o dbs, DLs, and OLs, 5 rb/fbs, 5 wrs, 2 tes and 5 LBs. Don’t know if they can function with 5 LB assuming special teams draws from other positions but there’s less talent at LB. You don’t need 5 RBs but it’s a matter of keeping talent and special teams. There should be some doctor’s note IRs this year.

  24. 24 makarov__ said at 9:11 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    Regarding Patterson, I’d be surprised if he’s practicing in the next week, but who can say?

    I’m not a neurologist, but it’s possible that if he does have AVM, playing football or other intense physical activity doesn’t necessarily increase the risk of a hemorrhage . In other words, Mike Patterson might have a small risk every year of having a hemorrhage whether he plays football or lies in a bed.

    I’m sure his doctors will have more informed medical opinions than me, but just wanted to put this out there as a reason why he might be able to return to the field very quickly.

  25. 25 eagles nut said at 9:31 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    They’ve gone back and forth year to year between keeping 7 or 6 LBs.

  26. 26 Eaglesfanatlarge said at 11:29 PM on August 5th, 2011:

    JP is usually only good for about the first 6 games of the year, then he tails off. Maybe the plan is to keep him until Graham comes off the PUP, then put him on the trade block, while he is still looking his best.

    With all of the new talent coming in, I think some guys that the average fan might have been expecting to make the team might get shipped off to Sotheby’s or wind up on the cutting room floor. We may see some relatively high draft picks from the past few years or other guys that played pretty well that don’t make it, and not necessarily becuase they arent playing well. Guys like Teo, Colt Anderson, Dunlap, JP, Joselio, Jeanty, and some others. I’m not saying all of these guys will get dealt or discarded, but at least some of them will. I expect that more than a few of them will wind up wearing another team’s jersey and having respectable NFL careers.

  27. 27 GermanEagle said at 4:42 AM on August 6th, 2011:

    Given the lack of talent compared to all the other positions it would be borderline insane to go with 7 LBs this year.

    I see the birds carrying 10 lineman both for the offense and the defense, with BG on the PUP. I am also pretty sure that we are keeping 6 WRs this season due to the question mark re Maclin.

  28. 28 mcud said at 7:10 AM on August 6th, 2011:


    Re: 6-7 LBs

    I haven’t gone back and looked on a game to game basis, and the Eagles sometimes break camp with 6 LBs, but they almost always carry 7 for game days. They’re not always active, but they take up a roster spot…

    2010 –
    Stewart Bradley
    Jamar Chaney
    Keenan Clayton
    Moise Fokou
    Omar Gaither
    Akeem Jordan
    Ernie Sims

    2009 –
    Moise Fokou
    Chris Gocong
    Akeem Jordan
    Joe Mays
    Jeremiah Trotter
    Tracy White
    Will Witherspoon

    2008 –
    Stewart Bradley
    Tank Daniels
    Omar Gaither
    Akeem Jordan
    Joe Mays
    Tracy White
    Chris Gocong

    2007 –
    Stewart Bradley
    Omar Gaither
    Chris Gocong
    Akeem Jordan
    Matt McCoy
    Takeo Spikes
    Pago Tagofau

    There are times when we go with 6, I’m sure. But I think its a safer bet (based on the last few years at least) that we pencil in 7 LBs when trying to see how to keep that 10th or 11th DL.

  29. 29 mcud said at 7:11 AM on August 6th, 2011:

    Of course, given our LB talent, or lack thereof, coupled with our new DC, you guys might be right. Hell, maybe they’ll go with 5 this year!

  30. 30 nzflyer said at 7:44 AM on August 6th, 2011:

    hey, over at BGN they are talking bout the Maple Street Press that is coming out. Does anybody know how I would be able to get a copy? I’m all the way over in New Zealand, and would love LOVE a copy.

  31. 31 justrelax said at 7:56 AM on August 6th, 2011:

    Personnel and rule changes will affect roster shaping. Considering how much we figure to play 4-2-5 and 4-1-6 alignments, 7 LBs seems like too many. In addition, because they moved the kickoff spot up this year, kick coverage has been devalued. You want LBs to cover kicks but faster, smaller guys to cover punts. Six LBs is plenty. JMHO.

  32. 32 Corry said at 9:28 AM on August 6th, 2011:


    BGN says to go to to order a copy.

  33. 33 liman said at 1:22 PM on August 6th, 2011:

    You the best,Tommy! Never fails me with your analysis. Always on point!