There are beginning to be some changes to the depth chart in advance of the Eagles' preseason opener one week from Thursday against Pittsburgh. Linebacker Jamar Chaney, who started all 16 games in 2011, was promoted to the first-team nickel package and will play alongside DeMeco Ryans.
This is important because according to Pro Football Focus, the Eagles used the nickel package 46 percent of the time in 2011, compared to 41 percent of the snaps coming out of the base defense.
"It felt pretty good. It means I'm doing something right," Chaney said after Thursday morning's walk thru. "I don't think they would put me out there if I wasn't looking good in Training Camp. As long as I keep it up and continue to get better every day, my goal is to be out there September 9 in base defense and all of our subpackages. I'm just going to keep working and hope for the best."
The 6-0, 242-pound Chaney led the Eagles with 104 tackles last season. He started the first three games of the season on the strong side before moving to the middle. Chaney also had three interceptions, which was the most by an Eagles linebacker since William Thomas had three in 1996.
However, the Eagles acquired Ryans in a trade from Houston to play the middle linebacker spot. In the second round of the NFL Draft, Mychal Kendricks was selected and immediately placed on the strong side.
Working with the second-team defense at the start of Training Camp, Chaney said it was a blessing because he got to prove himself against the first-team offense in practice every day. Chaney also admitted that he "underestimated" the emotions of not playing with the first-team defense.
Now, the Eagles have last year's top tackler as well as a two-time Pro Bowl linebacker on the first-team nickel package. Chaney noted that they will have to jell together on the field.
"We've got a lot of experience out there," Chaney said. "I've started every game last year and he's been in the Pro Bowl."
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