More hits for Birds' DLs
BETHLEHEM Trent Cole has what Jason Babin has.
And now it's spread to Cullen Jenkins. All of the defensive linemen are keeping each other company in the training room.
Cole is nursing a swollen AC joint in his shoulder that Eagles head coach Andy Reid said occurred early in practice Monday afternoon.
Cole worked through it, and it's been swelling ever since.
"Rick tried to get it calmed down last night," Reid said Wednesday, referencing head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder. "And Trent came back this morning and it was swollen a little bit more this morning than even yesterday. It could be a day, it could be a week."
While the Eagles try to reduce the swelling in Cole's shoulder and the strained right calf of Babin, who is out for at least a second week, their numbers at defensive end are shrinking.
Jenkins, a defensive tackle, began Wednesday afternoon's practice starting at defensive end on the other side of veteran Darryl Tapp. Jenkins couldn't finish, though. He was carted off and was scheduled to undergo an MRI.
Almost two weeks into training camp, the healthy starters at defensive end are Tapp and Brandon Graham. Philip Hunt and rookie Vinny Curry, battling back from a high ankle sprains, also are getting more snaps at the position.
Yet another defensive end, rookie Montae Taylor, suffered a concussion in the afternoon practice.
"Everybody has got to step up," Graham said. "You never know basically what's going to happen. I'm just taking the time to enjoy the moment and to show them that we're not going to lose a beat just because a guy is out."
Graham has performed well rushing the passer in team drills and one-on-one work against the offensive linemen. He's not been nearly as effective in team settings stopping the run, as he has a propensity for overrunning plays.
Defensive line coach Jim Washburn preaches what Graham described as the "rush, crush and close" technique.
"I'm just trying to get better with my run game, get better in all areas," said Graham, the Eagles' first-round pick in 2010. "Just my aiming points. Making sure you always have good technique. And just make sure you master it."
Reid reiterated that the absence of the veteran defensive ends is an opportunity for others playing the position. Curry, the rookie second-round pick, is one of those guys. He drew praise from Reid for fighting through a high ankle sprain that occurred in early June. High sprains can take months to heal.
"Those things tweak themselves as they go along for a month or two," Reid said. "Working with that, he sure has done a nice job with his pass rush. He's very strong and you can see that, and he has great leverage. So much of it is how low you can get coming around the edge and the target that you present the offensive linemen. You want to make sure you're not giving them a huge target to jam. He does all of those things naturally, so that's a good thing to work with."
Hunt is a little bigger than last year, tipping the scales at 258 pounds. But he's just 6-0, a less than ideal height for an end unless you're talking about Dwight Freeney.
If the injuries to Babin and Cole linger, the Eagles will have to bring in help. They're already light at tackle without veteran Mike Patterson, who is unable to practice until he heals from brain surgery.
"I think we have that many that are good players, but I've got to balance out the rest of the roster," Reid said. "Howie (Roseman) and I will get together and will do that as time goes on here. You never know what is going to happen. We're way early in this thing still."