Eagles Notebook: Eagles' d-linemen make for rough cuts

Posted: August 28, 2012

PRESEASON GAMES are for sorting out roster questions.

Along the defensive line, the Eagles' choices just seem to keep getting harder.

"You want that, though," coach Andy Reid maintained Sunday. "It's a little bit like sweet and sour pork: There's a sour side and a sweet side. The sour being that not everybody can make the team; the sweet is that you sure want that position to be strong. I think we're going to come out with good players. Unfortunately, somebody else is going to get some good players, too. But that group has done a nice job."

Going into Friday night's preseason game at Cleveland, veteran Darryl Tapp seemed to be playing his way out of the picture. Tapp was a big part of a penalty- and mistake-marred effort at New England last Monday that led to a sideline confrontation between Reid and the d-line's leader, Cullen Jenkins.

So, of course, Tapp played much better Friday night, notching a fumble recovery and setting a strong edge against the run. As we've said before, going into camp Cedric Thornton and Phillip Hunt seemed to be in tough spots as far as making the roster. Hunt might have been the best d-lineman in the preseason, and Thornton has been good, too.

"My biggest thing this last game was to be better than the New England game," Tapp said Sunday. "Eliminating penalties, having better judgment on the run. I don't think I'd ever had a 15-year penalty, and [at New England] I had a two-fer. I really focused on just trying to be in the moment, just make my plays."

Ryan Grigson, the former Eagles personnel czar who now is general manager in Indianapolis, seems to snap up anything that shakes loose from his former place of employment. But Tapp said he is not pricing Indy condos yet: "I'm cool with living with here in Philadelphia right now."

He agreed that this an exceptional group. You figure, Jason Babin, Trent Cole, Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Derek Landri, Vinny Curry, Thornton, Hunt and Brandon Graham make the team, no question. Mike Patterson, clearly headed for the physically unable to perform list, won't count against the limit. Then there are Tapp and veteran defensive tackle Antonio Dixon. Could the Eagles keep 11 d-linemen? Often the Week 1 roster is out of kilter, too little of this, too much of that, until injuries and adjustments level things out.

"Everybody from the top to the supposed bottom can get after it," Tapp said. "[The decisions are] on them. We just make it as hard as we can."

Dixon, a valued contributor under Sean McDermott, went on IR last October with a torn triceps and doesn't seem to fit what current defensive-line coach Jim Washburn prizes.

"I can't worry about that," Dixon said Sunday. "The only thing I can worry about is playing the run, trying to get a good pass rush . . . A lot of good numbers. It's going to be hard. It's business, though."

Patterson pessimism?

The Eagles were surprised when Dr. Robert Spetzler, the Arizona specialist who untangled the blood vessels on Mike Patterson's brain, decided he hadn't seen enough healing to clear Patterson for contact at the start of training camp. Patterson thought he was ready, Eagles medical personnel thought he was ready. But Spetzler did not, and now that Patterson has missed the entire preseason, he just about has to start the season on the PUP list, meaning he can't practice with the team until 6 weeks into the season. But nobody knows if that's going to happen.

"I think that's going to be an extended time here. We just have to see how that goes, if he's able to go at all this year, we'll just have to see how that works out," Andy Reid said when he was asked about Patterson. "We'll take checkups in increments here, but right now, that's going to be a while."

This was the first mention of any possibility Patterson might not play at all this season.


Starting safety Nate Allen left the Flight Night practice with a hamstring problem. No further information was available Sunday night . . . The Eagles released 10 players Saturday, then cut corner Cliff Harris Sunday morning, but Andy Reid said nothing specific happened to spur the release of Harris, who had a succession of off-the-field problems at Oregon. Reid said the Eagles "couldn't get ahold of" Harris Saturday to tell him he was cut. The team must release four more players by 4 p.m. Monday to get to the 75-man limit. The cut to 53 comes Friday, by 9 p.m.

Contact Les Bowen at bowenl@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter @LesBowen. For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' blog at eagletarian.com.

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