Eagles depth chart breakdown: Defense/STs

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Eagles depth chart breakdown: Defense/STs

June 19, 2013, 9:00 am
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This week, Eagles Insider Geoff Mosher is breaking down the Eagles' depth chart. He took a look at the offense on Monday, and today it's the defense and special teams:

Cedric Thornton, Vinny Curry, Joe Kruger
NT: Isaac Sopoaga, Antonio Dixon, Bennie Logan
LDE: Fletcher Cox, Clifton Geathers, Dave King
ROLB: Trent Cole, Everette Brown, Phillip Hunt
ILB: DeMeco Ryans, Jamar Chaney, Jake Knott
ILB: Mychal Kendricks, Jason Phillips, Casey Matthews
LOLB: Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Chris McCoy
RCB: Cary Williams, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Hughes
LCB: Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Jordan Poyer
S: Patrick Chung, Earl Wolff, Colt Anderson
S: Nate Allen, Kenny Phillips, Kurt Coleman

The defensive line is the biggest question mark entering camp. We still aren’t sure if the Eagles will play a traditional 3-4 front, a 4-3 under or a conventional 4-3.

Based on the spring camps, it sure looks as if they’ll either play a 3-4 or some variation of the 4-3 under, which means Isaac Sopoaga will man the middle and be flanked on one side by Fletcher Cox.

On the other side, Cedric Thornton is apparently the lead horse to start, but Vinny Curry, Clifton Geathers or rookie Bennie Logan could emerge. Geathers saw the most reps at camp when either Sopoaga or Thornton weren’t practicing, so the coaches have seen him play multiple positions. Curry consistently manned second-team defensive end and Logan played several spots but mostly ran with the third team. Seventh-round picks Joe Kruger and Dave King, along with rookie free-agent Damion Square, are all fighting for sports.

Of the outside linebackers, only Connor Barwin can be definitely called a starter. Trent Cole and Brandon Graham learned the position during the camps and we’ll see where they end up. Expect the coaches to figure out some way of getting these pass rushers on the field. It doesn’t appear as if DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks will be challenged at inside linebacker. Jason Phillips, a free-agent pickup, and Jamar Chaney were consistently running with the second team during the camp. The team is high on rookie free-agent Jake Knott, who could elbow his way onto the roster with impressive showings on special teams.

At corner, Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher were brought here to start, but Brandon Boykin practiced at second-team outside corner and has expressed his desire to start on the outside. Problem is, he might be too valuable as the nickelback, which is essentially a starting spot anyway. Curtis Marsh took some first-team reps while Williams was skipping out on camp. Jordan Poyer missed all of camp due to an NCAA graduation rule, but I’m giving him the nod over Trevard Lindley.

The battles at safety should be second only in fan interest to the quarterback competition. Patrick Chung enters camp as the favorite, with Nate Allen and Kenny Phillips dueling for the other starting spot. Don’t count out rookie Earl Wolff, who stole some first-team reps at the last minicamp. Colt Anderson, David Sims and Kurt Coleman are in the mix for a roster spot.

Special teams
K: Alex Henery
P: Donnie Jones, Brad Wing
LS: Jon Dorenbos
KR: Damaris Johnson, Brandon Boykin, Russell Shepard
PR: Damaris Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Russell Shepard

Alex Henery’s job is safe. Same for Jon Dorenbos. After that, jobs are up for grabs. An underrated summer battle will be waged between veteran punter Donnie Jones and rookie free agent Brad Wing. Both have strong legs but Jones was the more consistent of the two at the spring camps.

In the return game, the coaches gave everyone a shot to prove their worth this spring, with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Felix Jones, Bryce Brown and Arrelious Benn included in the mix, but I’m ruling out Maclin and Brown from the start. Damaris Johnson and Brandon Boykin enter as the favorites with rookie free agent Russell Shepard also a legit contender.

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