Eagles Notes: Eagles linebackers practicing in multiple alignments

Posted: September 08, 2012

There's been a merry-go-round at linebacker for the Eagles over the last few seasons, but the team made efforts this offseason to make it stop with the acquisitions of DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. It might start spinning again on Sunday in Cleveland.

Kendricks said Thursday after practice that the coaches had each of the Eagles' six linebackers practicing in various alignments in several packages on defense.

"I would expect for all of us to be playing because that's what we're game-planning with," said Kendricks, who is expected to start at the strong side.

For instance, Kendricks said that Jamar Chaney was playing alongside him in one variation of the nickel defense.

"That went fine," Kendricks said of working with Chaney. "They got us in a rotation all the time, so we all know each other's tendencies and how we do. Couple of times Chaney helped me out today. . . . And [Ryans] will do the same thing."

Chaney had been sidelined with a hamstring injury. He said he's completely healthy. While he was out, Brian Rolle was demoted at weakside, and Akeem Jordan was promoted. Chaney said he's back at strong-side backing up Kendricks, but that might not matter. All of the Eagles' linebackers - Casey Matthews is the sixth - appear to be interchangeable.

"They're going to try and find a way to put the best guys out there," Chaney said. "They just told us to be ready."

If Chaney is out there for parts of the nickel defense, it calls into question whether Ryans is the three-down linebacker the Eagles said they got when they acquired him from Houston in March.

Asked if he was still a three-down linebacker, Ryans said: "I am."

Cox limited

Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, the Eagles' first-round pick, was limited during Thursday's practice with knee inflammation. Asked about the injury after practice, Cox said it happened Wednesday, and he was unconcerned.

Cox said the knee was a little swollen and that he would play Sunday against the Browns.

Rookies return

Damaris Johnson will be the Eagles' punt returner, and Brandon Boykin will be the kick returner, special- teams coordinator Bobby April confirmed Thursday. That means the Eagles will enter the season with rookies at both return spots, a first in April's career as a special- teams coordinator.

"This is like last year with two rookie kickers," April joked.

On Art Modell

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie joined the NFL in 1994, when Art Modell was still the Browns' owner. Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore, where they became the Ravens in 1996, and continued to own the team until 2004. Modell died Thursday morning.

"I will always be thankful for the way Art Modell reached out to me and made me feel welcome when I first became owner of the Eagles," Lurie said in a statement. "Art was a man with a wonderful sense of humor. He also had a visionary grasp of the importance of making professional football accessible to television audiences, helping build the sport's popularity to this day. We extend our condolences to the Modell family on his passing."

Also, former Eagles offensive lineman George Savitsky, 88, an all-American at Penn, died Tuesday in Somers Point, N.J., because of complications from pneumonia.

Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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