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Allen's Return Bolsters Impressive Depth

Posted Aug 26, 2017

In an under-the-radar bit of news that is going to mean something down the line in this long season, the Eagles placed defensive tackle Beau Allen on the 90-man active roster, meaning he is immediately eligible to practice and play in Thursday’s preseason game, if he is ready. Allen’s return to the defense after missing all of the spring and summer practices, workouts, Training Camp, and preseason games gives the defensive line another explosive body and remarkable depth ..

In an under-the-radar bit of news that is going to mean something down the line in this long season, the Eagles placed defensive tackle Beau Allen on the 90-man active roster, meaning he is immediately eligible to practice and play in Thursday’s preseason game if he is ready. Allen’s return to the defense after missing all of the spring and summer practices, workouts, Training Camp, and preseason games gives the defensive line another explosive body and remarkable depth.

Allen isn’t going to be a starter here, but he’s a valuable player in the defensive tackle rotation. And with the way Jim Schwartz wants to play his defensive line and bring wave after wave of players in an attempt to exhaust offensive lines and harass quarterbacks, the more good players who are able to play make the line so much more effective.

A marathon 16-game schedule waits for the Eagles in the regular season and the depth the team has accumulated along the line of scrimmage – on both sides of the ball – provides a particularly encouraging outlook. With Allen back in the fold now that he’s recovered from a torn pectoral muscle, the Eagles can bring combinations of power and speed and enviable depth from the defensive tackle position. Allen’s return was faster than initial projections indicated, and he should be able to help the Eagles as early as September 10 when the Eagles open the regular season at Washington.

Slot Allen in with fourth tackle Destiny Vaeao behind starters Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan and give the Eagles a solid thumbs up in the depth department. Allen started three games last season, played 40 percent of the snaps in all, is a load against the run, and also offers some explosiveness rushing the quarterback.

The question at defensive tackle is whether the Eagles will carry a fifth player on the active roster, knowing they have candidates like Justin Hamilton, who has been on the practice squad in Green Bay and Seattle the last two seasons after signing with Buffalo as an undrafted rookie free agent, and sixth-round draft pick Elijah Qualls, who has shown some good things with his leverage and relentlessness in this preseason. Gabe Wright, a young NFL veteran, is also in the mix, and Winston Craig will get some quality reps on Thursday night against the Jets to show what he can do.

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“We just want to keep coming,” defensive line coach Chris Wilson said last week when the assistant coaches sat down with the media. “Wear down offenses. Keep that energy high. Come off the ball and take it to the offense. That’s what we want to do. So the more guys we can have in the rotation, players we know are going to do what we ask them to do, that’s going to help us.”

The Eagles have done a strong job of revamping key positions in the last couple of years since Chip Kelly’s tenure ended. Drafting Isaac Seumalo and Halapoulivaati Vaitai last season, along with signing free agents Stefen Wisniewski and Chance Warmack, has given the offensive line terrific depth, enough that the Eagles have traded three linemen (Dennis Kelly, Allen Barbre, and Matt Tobin) in the last two summers. The wide receiver group, of course, has had a swift and complete makeover and the Eagles have taken a position justly scrutinized and made it a position of strength. Cornerback, with the drafting of Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, and Rasul Douglas along with the trade to acquire Ronald Darby, has been bolstered.

Then there’s the defensive line, the key to Schwartz’s entire plan. Defensive tackle, as noted, is loaded. The Cox-Jernigan pairing should be dynamic and extremely difficult to counter for offensive lines. At defensive end, the Eagles have five ends who could see snaps – starters Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry, veteran Chris Long, first-round draft pick Derek Barnett and veteran Steven Means. That is a deep and talented five-man group that aims to control games off the edge.

Among the many positives in this Training Camp and preseason period is the fact that the Eagles played three games and suffered nary a season-impacting injury. They will play deep reserves on Thursday night and point their first- and second-team players toward Washington.

Having Allen back on the field isn’t something that a lot of fans recognize necessarily, but for the team, his presence is welcomed. The Eagles are coming hard and fast defensively, and now that Allen is healed and healthy, the defensive tackle group is one good player better. That means something in the long run that is an NFL regular season.

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