|Jeremiah Trotter (left) and Takeo Spikes have become fast friends at Eagles Training Camp. They're often seen hanging around each other and joking around together both on and off the field. Spikes appears to be an impressive addition to the Eagles defense. (AP/Rusty Kennedy)|
The Eagles are also going to continue mixing Omar Gaither into the middle linebacker spot and it's a position that he seems completely comfortable with. Leadership comes easy to Gaither and he's quickly gained the respect of his defensive counterparts and the coaching staff. Gaither's presence gives the Eagles some depth and also give them the opportunity to spell Trotter and not miss much, if anything inside.
Meanwhile, most eyes are on second-year man Chris Gocong, who is trying to make the transition from a college defensive end to an NFL strongside linebacker. Gocong has plenty of size and has shown the ability to handle the agility part of playing at linebacker, showing off some nice moves through the first couple days of practice with the pads on. Trotter himself has said that he thinks Gocong's transition is going smoothly and he doesn't see anything to be concerned with for Gocong to fill the new role. Gocong's success likely means that Spikes can play on the weak side, especially with a healthy Trotter anchoring the middle. Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson was very pleased with Gocong's progress during spring mini-camp.
Every camp, there are one or two players that seem to step up and this summer, the Birds are seeing some good things from rookie Stewart Bradley. He's been rotating in at middle linebacker and has gotten the attention of the other members of the linebacking corps and the coaches. He's shown himself to be strong covering backs out of the backfield and has been taking advantage of every opportunity. Bradley, who was taken in the third round of this year's draft, is more accustomed to playing strong side linebacker, but Gocong's presence has Bradley looking to be more of a utility type player who can do a number of things for the Eagles defense.
After struggling against the run last season, the Eagles looked to improve their fortunes and went to work reshaping their linebacking group. The moves appear to have worked and the chemistry among the linebackers has been very noticeable in the early days of camp. On Thursday, the defense looked sharp in drills against the run and hope to continue that progress and even look to have increased depth among linebackers.