Would you believe nothing?
While head coach Andy Reid is leaving open the possibility that his team may
select a defensive end in the draft later this month and/or sign a veteran on
the cheap after June 1, he insisted this week that he would be quite content to
open the season with Derrick Burgess as his starting right end.
Burgess, a third-round pick in the '01 draft, showed a lot of promise as a
rookie, notching six sacks in a part-time role. But he suffered a fracture of
the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot in Week One last year and missed the
rest of the season.
He had bone graft surgery on the foot in February, and doctors have assured the
Eagles that he'll be ready to play by the start of training camp. But his foot
still is in a boot and he is not scheduled to participate in any of the club's
"I feel very confident about him," Reid said. "The foot's healing
well. He's rehabbing well. He should be fine. I think he'll do a very good job
over there (at right end)."
With the emergence last year of tackle Darwin Walker and the expected return of
Hollis Thomas, who also missed last season with a broken foot, the Eagles have
some flexibility up front. In short-yardage situations, they can pull the
265-pound Burgess and slide Walker outside, much like they did in the NFC
Championship Game loss to Tampa Bay.
They also have a capable edge rusher in N.D. Kalu, who had a career-high eight
sacks last season. Reid said last week that he believes both Burgess and Kalu
are capable of double-digit sack seasons this year.
"Derrick had six sacks as a part-time player as a rookie. ND had eight as a
part-time guy last year, and a lot of the time, he was lining up as the `joker'
(middle linebacker in the Eagles' dime alignment). If we give him a chance to
come off the edge more, I think he could pick up even more sacks."
Keep in mind, what Reid says in early April doesn't always translate to reality
in September. Last year at about this time, after letting two-time Pro Bowl
middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter walk, Reid said he was confident that Barry
Gardner could replace him. As June turned to July, though, Reid wasn't nearly as
confident about that and ended up signing Levon Kirkland after he was cut by the
Seattle Seahawks. Kirkland started every game at middle linebacker.
One name to keep in mind is Jacksonville's injury-plagued end Tony Brackens, who
is expected to be released before the start of training camp.
"We'll be fine," Reid said. "I'm ready to go with the people we
have. If we stay reasonably healthy, we are very capable of making another
(Super Bowl) run with this group."
Team Report: Philadelphia Eagles
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