It all seemed like a stretch. And it was. Yesterday the Eagles, ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing defense after two games, finally moved Chaney back to the middle. Fokou went back to the strongside, where he started 11 games last season. Matthews, an outside linebacker in college at Oregon, went to the weakside.
We'll learn Castillo's rationale when he addresses reporters today. Matthews and Fokou were not present in the locker room during the time reporters were allowed, but Chaney, who looked promising in starting the final two games of 2010 at MIKE, said he felt the changes would help.
"I like to look at the whole offensive line, all the way to the fullback. Being at the MIKE, you can see all of that. At the SAM, you can pretty much see half of the line," Chaney said.
Chaney said he thought the three were in more natural positions now. Chaney said that during practice, Matthews "said he's already starting to like the new position."
"With the WIL, he won't have to make calls - he did a good job with all that; out of all the rookie linebackers in the league, he probably had the most pressure and responsibility on him, and I think he did a pretty good job," Chaney said.
Asked how these moves will change the defense, Chaney said: "I don't know. You'll find out Sunday, when you see all of us on the field at the same time. I like the change; I'm down for everything though, Juan and coach Reid are doing."
Chaney said he "wasn't expected to go back to the middle this week."
Apparently, the nickel package won't change, with Chaney and rookie Brian Rolle most often handling the linebacking.
The Giants-Eagles rivalry is at an especially high pitch this week, given the Eagles' six successive victories in the series, and the circumstances surrounding the last installment, the Dec. 19 game in which the Birds came back from 21 down to win in the final 8 minutes.
Eagles players are being asked a lot about things the Giants are saying, such as Antrel Rolle's assertion that he has covered DeSean Jackson effectively one-on-one before and can do it again.
"He's just talking. A lot of times when people talk, they're either insecure or scared," Jeremy Maclin offered yesterday. "You just gotta go out there and play, man."
Jason Avant had a different take, understanding how frustrating it must have been for the New Yorkers to outplay the Eagles for 52 minutes last December, then see it all disappear. He said that in an odd way, that game should give the Giants confidence.
"You realize that, 'Man, if we go out there and not mess it up, we can play and we can win.' I know they realize they have the opportunity to beat us, and we know that, too, so we respect them. We'll come out and play our best game and be as focused as we can," Avant said.
Defensive ends Juqua Parker (ankle) and Darryl Tapp (pectoral muscle) did not practice. Andy Reid said Cullen Jenkins could move outside to end for some snaps against the Giants if needed . . . Jeremy Maclin was asked if he thought the $40,000 fine assessed the Falcons' Dunta Robinson for hitting Maclin headfirst was sufficient. "You can't lead with your head, period. It's not for me to say whether it's enough or not enough," Maclin said. "I'm in no position to hand out any fines. If you do it, you're going to get fined. He got fined" . . . Asante Samuel, asked in a conference call with New York reporters if he could see himself playing for a hated rival, a la Steve Smith, joked that the way things have gone this year, he probably could.