WarNest Notes: Pass Rush Gets Sacked

The Eagles figured that with a young Brodrick Bunkley and a veteran Darren Howard, there would be plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Instead, the slumping pass rush has put more pressure on the rest of the defense.

The Eagles' pass rush, which was supposed to be much improved this season with the free agent acquisition of defensive end Darren Howard and the first-round selection of defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley in the draft, has been non-existent lately.

The Eagles have just six sacks in the past seven games, during which they are 2-5. Bunkley can't get on the field. He was out there for two plays in Monday night's 27-24 win over Carolina and had Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams run by him for 9- and 20-yard gains.

Howard has just one sack and one hurry in the last seven games. In his defense, he's been slowed by injuries (groin and knee). He is listed as questionable for this week's game against Washington and didn't practice Thursday. But defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said he expected Howard to play Sunday.

"You've got to play through it," Johnson said. "Guys in this league are going to be banged up this time of year. Sometimes, you've got to limit their reps, which we're doing with Howard. But that's part of the NFL. A lot of people have injuries, and some guys have to fight through them a little more."

Besides the injuries, Howard also has been affected by the absence of defensive end Jevon Kearse, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second week of the season. With Kearse out, Howard is getting more double-team attention from offenses.

Asked whether the injuries have affected Howard's play, Johnson said, "To a certain degree. He played better Monday night than he has the last couple of weeks."

Notes From The 'Nest...

  • LB Omar Gaither will make his second start at WILL Sunday against Washington in place of struggling Matt McCoy. McCoy has been bothered by a shoulder sprain.
  • CB Rod Hood practiced Thursday but still is listed as questionable for Sunday with a sore hamstring. He will try to play.
  • LB Shawn Barber, who has missed the past two games with a knee sprain, practiced Thursday and was upgraded to probable for Sunday's game. His absence in the team's nickel package has been felt.

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