"We had success with it toward the end of last year," Reid said. "Guys know their role. They can focus on it. They're all interchangeable, which is a good thing."
Many teams, however, prefer to have one linebacker that can play all three downs, especially if he wears the headset that allows communication with the defensive coordinator.
Ryans said Friday that he expects to wear the headset on Sunday. He wore it during his first five seasons with the Texans. They took it away last season because Ryans, coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon and playing inside linebacker in a new 3-4 scheme, wasn't on the field as much.
"It's whatever Coach Reid puts out there," Ryans said about potentially not playing all three downs. "That's what we're rolling with."
The Eagles acquired the 28-year-old Ryans, slated to earn $5.9 million in salary this season, from the Texans for a fourth-round pick and an exchange of third round picks.
Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo was asked Thursday if he was worried by Ryans' performance in the preseason, in which the linebacker recorded three solo tackles in approximately four quarters.
"He made plays in practice. He did things," Castillo said. "He got everybody lined up. He's been a leader for our group."
Castillo has stressed the importance of Ryans' leadership skills since the spring, but more so of late.
"I think the thing that's really special is that you see him in installs and the notes that he takes and how he prepares for games," Castillo said. "That's invaluable. You see the other kids sitting right next to him, and they see the way he takes notes."
The Eagles have rotated their linebackers for years, but the practice has increased over the last several seasons. Many teams have taken to substituting players in and out in search of the best matchups.
"We did it as far back as when Jim [Johnson] was here," Reid said of his former coordinator. "We put guys in and took guys out for certain situations. I think you see that throughout the league - you see linebackers that rotate. I don't think it's any novelty."
Reid and a few of the linebackers said they weren't concerned about possible confusion as various units are shuffled on and off the field. The combinations will depend upon many factors. For instance, Matthews said the coaches have told him that he performs best when defending against the pass in zone defense.
Matthews (ankle) and Chaney (hamstring) have been sidelined for most of the last few weeks. Both are listed as probable on the injury report.
"It's good enough to play," Matthews said about his sprained ankle.
With Dion Lewis listed as questionable with a hamstring strain, there's a strong chance that rookie Bryce Brown will back up LeSean McCoy at running back and possibly be part of the Eagles' game plan. "I'm taking a lot more reps than I have in the past," Brown said. . . . Rookie defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, limited at Thursday's practice with knee inflammation, is probable for Sunday.
Contact Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.