Philadelphia Eagles News

CB Asomugha Eager For Impact

It is one of the great mysteries that will start to unfold when the Eagles defense takes the field for the season opener. The Eagles have a galaxy of stars at cornerback with Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. How does new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo work in all of that talent, all of those egos?

All three have put the team first when discussing the defense to this point. Rodgers-Cromartie has played as the third cornerback with no complaints even though he has a Pro Bowl on his list of credentials. Samuel played his customary left cornerback position throughout the preseason and Asomugha has moved around – a little at right cornerback, some in the slot, even a safety at times.

The Eagles seem intent on making Asomugha a focal point of the defense, even if he is difficult for a quarterback to get a focus on. That's the idea. Asomugha is the "Where's Waldo?" of the Eagles defense: Catch him if you can.

"Juan likes to play multiple coverages and give different looks and things like that. That's a benefit for myself and for the other players because it keeps a quarterback on his heels, not knowing what to expect. That's one thing I've gotten from this system," said Asomugha. "It's good the way he changes plays and lets us do what we do best."

The Eagles, then, are not going to put Asomugha on an island and leave him there. Oh, there may be times when he is asked to shadow an offense's star wide receiver, but he isn't going to be easy to get a bead on and locate every time a quarterback walks to the line of scrimmage. Quarterbacks did that when Asomugha played in Oakland, and they threw to the other side. For a player as great as Asomugha is to have gone an entire season – last year, and in three from 2003-2005 – to have zero interceptions is almost impossible.

But that's what Asomugha's numbers say. He picked off 8 passes in 2006 and teams then stayed away, so Asomugha registered one interception in each of the next three seasons before posting a goose egg last year.

Here, the Eagles want to get Asomugha more involved. They moved him around quite a bit in the preseason, a tactic likely to accelerate as the regular season begins.

"You want to be more involved in a game. I'll be able to do some things here that I haven't done before, to play within the defense and not get outside of that and not do my own thing," said Asomugha.

The defense, says Asomugha, is coming together.  It will be better in Week 10 than it will be in the opener, but Asomugha likes what he has seen so far.

"I think we're there. As each game goes, you get better and better individually and as a team, but I think we're ready for the opener, ready to kind of start that momentum going as far as seeing how great the defense can be."

What will Castillo call on Asomugha to do? He could line up in the slot and blitz. He could play linebacker and cover the flat. There are times when Asomugha could play deep safety and face the quarterback and get his hands on the football.

The idea is to get Asomugha as involved as possible, and to stay flexible within a scheme that Castillo would like to keep simple, yet unpredictable and very, very aggressive.

"We are going to give a lot of different looks," said Asomugha. "It is going to take time to get it all together, but we're working at it.

"Everybody has high hopes at the start of the season.  There is a national spotlight on us here. That's the big difference. Wherever I was we got into the season thinking it could be our year, but it was really just us thinking that. I come here, and everybody is thinking it. The expectations are high, but it's a good feeling. You know that a lot of teams want to go after you, want to beat you and you know you have to bring you best every game."

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