Breaking Down Eagles' Roster

We turn to the experts in Philadelphia for this position-by-position look at the Packers' Week 1 opponent. It's a new look for the Eagles, with no Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook, and two rookie starters on defense.

Quarterbacks: Starter — Kevin Kolb. Backups — Mike Vick, Mike Kafka.

With Kolb taking over for Donovan McNabb, who was traded to the Washington Redskins in early April, the Eagles will run a more traditional West Coast offense. Under the strong-armed but often inaccurate McNabb, the Eagles ran more of a vertical passing game. Kolb is a more traditional West Coast type quarterback. He's an accurate rhythm passer who gets the ball out quickly and gives his receivers yards-after-the-catch opportunities. If the preseason is any indication, the Eagles intend to replace Kolb with Vick in third-and-short and some red-zone situations.

Running backs: Starters — LeSean McCoy, FB Leonard Weaver. Backups — Mike Bell, Eldra Buckley.

With Brian Westbrook gone, LeSean McCoy will become the Eagles No. 1 back. With Westbrook missing eight games last year with injuries, McCoy saw a lot of action as a rookie and played well before running out of steam late in the season. He averaged a decent 4.1 yards per carry and caught 40 passes. Like Westbrook, he's a versatile back who can line up anywhere in the formation and get mismatches against linebackers and safeties in the passing game. Bell, who was signed away from the Super Bowl-champion Saints, is a solid between-the-tackles runner who will back up McCoy, but he has little experience at pass-protection. Weaver proved last year that he can be more than a blocking fullback. He averaged an impressive 4.6 yards per carry on 70 rushing attempts and also had two receiving touchdowns.

Tight ends: Starter — Brent Celek. Backups — Clay Harbor.

In his first full season as a starter, Celek had a team-high 76 receptions and eight touchdown catches. He is a tough-to-bring-down receiver with good speed, sure hands and an understanding of how to get open. He averaged 5.9 yards after the catch last year. The only tight end in the league who averaged more was the Chargers' Antonio Gates. Celek should flourish as a yards-after-the-catch receiver with Kolb, who is more accurate than McNabb. Harbor, a rookie fourth-rounder, is fast and athletic and has good hands. He'll team with Celek in two tight end sets.

Wide receivers: Starters — DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin. Backups — Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Hank Baskett.

Jackson established himself as one of the league's most dangerous wideouts last season, catching 63 passes. He had nine touchdowns, including six of 48 yards or longer. Maclin, the team's first-round pick in '09, made an incredibly smooth transition from a college spread offense at Missouri to the Eagles' West Coast. He had 55 receptions as a rookie. Maclin and Jackson should see their yards after the catch increase with Kolb at quarterback. Avant has developed into one of the league's better slot receivers. Twenty-six of his 41 catches last season went for first downs. Cooper is a big target with excellent speed and will be the No. 4 wideout.

Offensive linemen: Starters — LT Jason Peters, LG Todd Herremans, C Jamaal Jackson, RG Nick Cole, RT Winston Justice. Backups — Justin Howard, Mike McGlynn, Max Jean-Gilles, Reggie Wells, Austin Howard.

The biggest concern up front is the status of Jackson, who tore his ACL in late December. He didn't play in the Eagles' first three preseason games, and probably won't be anywhere close to 100 percent going into the season. Since three of their first five opponents play 3-4 defensive schemes, that's a concern. The rest of the line is fairly solid. Peters is one of the best left tackles in the game when he feels like playing. The Eagles were hoping to get a lot more from right guard Sean Andrews this year than they did last year now that he's a year removed from his ACL injury. Instead, they traded him to make way for Cole.

Defensive linemen: Starters — LE Brandon Graham, LT Mike Patterson, RT Brodrick Bunkley, RE Trent Cole. Backups — Darryl Tapp, Juqua Parker, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Antonio Dixon, Trevor Laws.

Brandon Graham
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
The Eagles had 44 sacks last season, but just 19 in their last nine games. Cole, a two-time Pro Bowler, is a high-motor guy on the right side who has notched 34 sacks the last three years. Rookie first-rounder Graham is a Cole clone, who will play on the outside on first and second down, then move inside in nickel. Parker had a career-high eight sacks last season. He'll be a nickel pass-rusher. Bunkley and Patterson are solid first- and second-down interior run-defenders, but combined for just 2.5 sacks last year.

Linebackers: Starters — WLB Ernie Sims, MLB Stewart Bradley, SLB Akeem Jordan. Backups — Moise Fokou, Omar Gaither, Keenan Clayton, Jamar Chaney.

This unit has more speed than any linebacker unit in the Andy Reid era. The 6-4, 255-pound Bradley is back after missing the entire '09 season with a torn ACL, which will give the unit a big lift. The Eagles traded for Sims to help improve their coverage of tight ends, which was awful last season. While he will play Will in their base, he will be matched up with the tight end a lot in their nickel and dime packages. Jordan, who opened last season as the starting Will, was moved to Sam less than a week into training camp to replace Fokou. Jordan isn't as big as Fokou, but has more speed, which is what Sean McDermott wants from this unit this season.

Defensive backs: Starters — LCB Asante Samuel, RCB Ellis Hobbs, FS Nate Allen, SS Quintin Mikell. Backups — Joselio Hanson, Dimitri Patterson, Trevard Lindley, Kurt Coleman, Jorrick Calvin.

The Eagles had 25 interceptions last season, fourth-most in the league. But they also gave up a disturbing 27 touchdown passes, as busted coverages became the norm rather than the exception. Samuel had nine picks and made the Pro Bowl, but was a liability as a tackler and often refused to play press coverage. The Eagles traded away longtime left corner Sheldon Brown and replaced him with Hobbs, who is coming off a career-threatening neck injury. Hanson returns as the nickel corner. Eagles tried three different people at FS last season after Brian Dawkins signed with Denver. None were adequate. They should be better there with the addition of rookie second-rounder Allen.

Special teams: PK David Akers, P Save Rocca, LS Jon Dorenbos, PR DeSean Jackson, KR Ellis Hobbs.

Akers will turn 36 during the season, but he has one of the league's strongest and most accurate legs. He missed just five of 37 field goal attempts last year and converted 12 of 16 from 40-plus yards. Jackson and Hobbs are two of the league's top return men. Jackson led the league in punt returns last season, averaging 15.2 yards per return and taking two back for touchdowns. Hobbs was leading the league in kickoff returns before suffering a season-ending neck injury. The Eagles also hired Bobby April, who is regarded as the league's best special teams coach, in the offseason, and many of their draft picks are defensive players with speed who can be an asset on special teams.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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