'Meetings in the training room'

Posted: August 03, 2012

BETHLEHEM — In the morning, Jamar Chaney was promoted to starting nickel linebacker.

In the afternoon, Chaney left practice with a left hamstring injury that was to be MRI'd Thursday night. He joined a growing list of injured Eagles, almost all of them suffering from minor afflictions.

Thursday's additions included safety O.J. Atogwe (right groin), wideout Jamel Hamler (right hamstring) and right tackle Todd Herremans (shoulder). Left guard Evan Mathis sat out with an illness and safety Nate Allen and running back LeSean McCoy left the afternoon practice with cramps.

That's kind of the way of the NFL as training camp enters its dog days, but it isn't much help if you're trying to keep track of who is playing where, with whom. Keeps changing.

Pop quiz: Name the Eagles' starting four defensive linemen. Thursday they were Darryl Tapp, Derek Landri, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. The four guys listed atop the depth chart — Jason Babin, Mike Patterson, Cullen Jenkins and Trent Cole — all are out. Only Patterson, recovering from brain surgery, should miss more than a few weeks.

"We have our defensive line meetings in the training room," joked Jenkins, who said he only expects to miss a few days with a hamstring "tweak."

Chaney supplanted Brian Rolle in the nickel, at least until his hamstring injury. Going into camp, it seemed second-round rookie Mychal Kendricks was going to be the nickel starter alongside DeMeco Ryans, but in camp that has been more Rolle, who starts on the weakside in the base, with middle linebacker Ryans and Kendricks.

Chaney said he took working with the second team until now as a way to improve, working against the first-team offense more than the defensive starters do.

"That's got to build confidence a little bit," he said. "I'm going up against some of the best pass-receiving running backs in the league" in LeSean McCoy and Dion Lewis.

Chaney said he wasn't given a rationale for the move. At 6-foot, 242, he is bigger and more experienced than Rolle or Kendricks.

"I started every game last year, had a lot of competition against great quarterbacks and whatnot," Chaney said. "I think I'm only going to get better.”

"Whatever the coaches' motive behind it, I'm sure it's for the better of the team," Rolle said. "I know I'm going to be on the field, if I work hard enough to do it."

The injuries to Jenkins and Patterson have put the focus even more squarely on first-round rookie Fletcher Cox.

"Going through the OTAs and everything, he was in [Juan Castillo's defense] but not able to go full speed or anything," Jenkins said of Cox. "it kind of hinders you a little bit in the learning process. Now that you're coming out here it's full speed, and it's just a little bit different."

Indeed, Cox said Thursday his biggest hurdle has been the speed of the afternoon practices, as he tries to put into motion what Castillo and defensive line coach Jim Washburn are telling him. "It's kind of a shock," Cox said.

There is an excellent chance Cox starts the preseason opener Aug. 9 vs. the Steelers.

"I'm kind of thinking about it. I know coach Wash, he'll have me prepared for it," Cox said. Second-round defensive end Vinnny Curry is in a similar situation, with Babin (calf) and Cole (AC joint) sidelined.

"I just want to take these next few days like studying for a test," Curry said. "Some things, you just got to make sure you're ready for."

Birdseed

Fifth-round rookie Dennis Kelly got some first-team reps, with Todd Herremans sitting out Thursday. Kelly, 6-8, 321, was very appreciative. "It's a big one, it's something as a rookie, you look into it and you say your coaches think you can do it, OK, they have some faith in me, and I'll prove ‘em right," he said. Kelly also has worked at guard … Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie is scheduled to give his annual state-of-the-team address Sunday at 1 p.m.

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