Eagles Notebook: Getting a Reid on the Eagles during lockout

Eagles' Brandon Graham may not be ready for the start of season.
Eagles' Brandon Graham may not be ready for the start of season.
Posted: March 23, 2011

NEW ORLEANS - The outside chance that the Eagles might draft a defensive end with the 23rd selection of the first round next month seemed to edge a little closer to the inside yesterday when head coach Andy Reid said he thinks Brandon Graham will be "a real stretch" to be ready to play when the season begins.

Last year, the Eagles kept defensive end Victor Abiamiri's microfracture knee surgery quiet, then surprised most observers by trading up in the draft to 13th to grab Graham, a defensive end from Michigan. Graham tore his anterior cruciate ligament Dec. 12. This is considered an excellent draft for defensive ends, but the Eagles also seem to have pressing needs at right cornerback and on the offensive line, with no idea when, or if, free agency will take place in the locked-out NFL.

Graham did not return a call seeking comment yesterday. Reid said free safety Nate Allen, the Eagles' second-round rookie starter last season who also underwent knee surgery, for a torn patellar tendon, should be ready for the season. (All this assumes the season starts on time, of course.)

Here are some other highlights from Reid's hour-plus media session at the NFL meetings, usually his most extended bout of question-answering each year:

* On a new contract for wide receiver DeSean Jackson: "That's a 'what if,' [since teams can't do contracts now]. I'm not into the 'what ifs.' There are a lot of things that go into that, that you'd have to look at."

Reid said he and Jackson have talked, before the lockout. He said he is "not at all" concerned about Jackson's durability.

* On how a long lockout would affect the implementation of changes: "We have new coaches. The one positive of Juan [Castillo, the new defensive coordinator and former offensive line coach] moving over to the defensive side is the terminology will remain the same. Some of the scheme, as far as alignments and things like that, will change, but it's nothing drastic enough where you'd say you're starting over. We should be OK there. The new players coming in, they're going to have to catch up, but that's OK; everybody's going to have to go through that . . . The new staffs, that's a little tougher. You have a completely new staff come in [without offseason work], that can be a little rough."

* On new defensive-line coach Jim Washburn teaching new techniques: "They'll have time. They'll just have to be like Evelyn Wood - go fast."

* On the idea that with lefthanded Mike Vick as the quarterback, Winston Justice plays the blindside role envisioned for Jason Peters, with a righthanded quarterback: "I'm comfortable with Winston. You know what was a pleasant improvement was King Dunlap. He really improved and showed he's a legitimate contender for that spot . . . Winston ended up playing hurt last year and still did a pretty good job. But there's always competition. That's one spot where there's a good competition going."

Reid said Dunlap's arrest in Nashville for refusing to move his car off a sidewalk "was what people said it was."

* Reid said Jamaal Jackson is OK after missing last season with triceps surgery following the season opener, and will return as starting center. "For a first-year [starter], I thought [sub Mike] McGlynn did a pretty good job," Reid said. "McGlynn can [play right guard], and you saw King jump in there, King can play right guard. Michael might hit him in the back of the head every now and then," since Dunlap is 6-9.

* Reid said he was surprised offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg didn't get a shot at a head coaching opening this offseason. He said if Mornhinweg had left, QB coach James Urban would have either succeeded Mornhinweg or gone with Mornhinweg as his offensive coordinator, instead of leaving to coach the Bengals' wideouts.

* Asked if he is happy with what he has at linebacker, Reid said: "Linebacker - we got to look at that."

* On the David Akers controversy, when Reid noted that Akers' two missed field goals were the difference in the playoff loss to Green Bay, though it turned out Akers had just learned his daughter was seriously ill, Reid said: "I think he came out and explained what went on. I think that's good enough. I'm obviously very concerned about his daughter, No. 1."

Is Reid disappointed Akers didn't sign the transition tender?

"I'm not going to get into all that. David and I have been together a long time, and it'll all work out."

* Reid contended he did not remember the Super Bowl Sunday Jon Gruden rumor, which the Eagles ended up having to officially deny.

* Reid agreed with most draft analysts, that LSU's Patrick Peterson and Nebraska's Prince Amukamara are the top corners available in the draft. He noted he sat with Peterson at the Maxwell banquet, and called him a "tough guy." Both corners are expected to be drafted in the top 10 overall.

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