OK, it's way to early to know for sure, but once the Eagles traded for DeMeco Ryans (see story), it's only natural to think about the Birds' starting three linebackers for 2012.
Jamar Chaney seems to be a sure-thing at the strongside linebacker spot. He played there some last year before being moved back into the middle, which is where he belonged last season with that group.
Chaney is coming off of off-season surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck but if he's ready for the opener, which he should be, he'll be the guy at SAM. Chaney (6-0, 242) isn't very big, but he's pretty fast, which means the outside is a good fit.
The weakside slot might end up being an open competition between Brian Rolle, Casey Matthews, Akeem Jordan and Moise Fokou. Or, they might still draft someone. But let's take a look at the in-house guys.
Jordan is the veteran who finished the season as the starter at SAM. But Jordan is entering his sixth year, and the most starts he has ever had in a season was 10 back in 2009. He's a nice player and a good special-teams player, but he'll probably never be a guy to start 15 or 16 games.
Then there's Rolle, the little guy (5-10 listed, 227) who finished last season at as the starter at weakside. Rolle was a sixth-rounder in the 2011 draft out of Ohio State and had 63 tackles last season, while starting 13 games.
Don't forget about Fokou (6-1, 236), whose stock dropped last season before he had season-ending ankle surgery. He lost his starting job at the strongside slot to Jordan and then played sparingly in the next three games before his season ended against New England.
There is also Matthews (6-1, 232). He started the first three games of the season at middle linebacker, and it was a disaster. He just simply wasn't ready for the NFL, let alone to be the starting MIKE. In those final four games (wins) of the season, Matthews found a niche in the nickel defense but never returned to the starting lineup. But he was a fourth-rounder and seemingly has the most upside of this group of four guys.
Lastly, Keenan Clayton and Greg Lloyd are still around. Clayton didn't get a shot to start last season and has just one start in his first two years. He was a fourth-rounder in 2010 and made a mark on special teams. Lloyd didn't make the active roster until Fokou was lost for the season with an ankle injury and wasn't active at all last season.
No, none of these guys are great. None of them blow you away, but with Ryans in the middle and Chaney on the strongside, it will be much easier to fill in that last spot and one of these guys should be OK.
E-mail Dave Zangaro at firstname.lastname@example.org