Philadelphia Eagles News

Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson

On whether he is worried about CB Asante Samuel's hamstring injury: "Of course you're concerned about anybody getting an injury. He's staying in the meetings and from what I saw this camp, earlier, before he got injured, I saw him really learn the defense. I think he's comfortable with the defense. He's having a good camp. He's been in this league for a while, as long as he stays up and learns the defense, I think he's going to be alright."

On the defensive line rotation: "I think it's too early. We are short some people; we don't have (DE) Bryan Smith or (DT) Trevor Laws out here. We are just rotating guys so that some guys don't have too many reps. Sometimes we have (DE) Trent (Cole) working with the second group just to help out. It's too early to talk about that, it really is. Injuries are a part of that right now."

On DE Victor Abiamiri and DE Juqua Parker alternating taking snaps with the first-team defense: "In a game situation, you're going to see that. Victor, to me, really had a good year last year. He's going to be playing a lot on first and second down. So will Parker. (Parker) is maybe a hair better of a pass rusher, but Victor is getting better too. I think it will come down to down and distance situations with those two."

On how important it is for another pass rusher to emerge across from Cole: "We're always looking for pass rushers. I think (DE) Darren Howard is in the best shape he's been in since he's been here. I think his weight is down, I think he's healthy, I see a lot of good things out of Howard. We are counting on them. We are counting on Victor being a better pass rusher. That's why we got (DE) Chris Clemons, we're going to be using him in nickel. I feel pretty good about our ends, as far as pass rushing. Now, we have to develop some inside people, that's why we sometimes use Howard inside and also Parker inside in nickel situations, too. I think we have some good rushers outside and we're trying to get some good rushers inside."

On whether Howard will be playing both DT and DE: "Yes."

On how valuable Howard is: "He's been valuable. I think this is going to be a good year for him. I anticipate a good year. I see a player who is in much better shape. His weight is down and he looks quick to me. I think he had a great offseason, as far as working on it and being around the complex also."

On how important the end of last season was for Howard: "He was a good role player for us last year. We expect more out of him this year. He made some big plays toward the end right there. We hope he continues. He just looks like a different player to me right now."

On how far along the linebackers are in their development: "The biggest thing is trying to develop (LB) Stewart (Bradley) as far as being the signal caller and handling situations - a lot of game situations like we had today. Making sure he has enough of that stuff. And, of course we're still trying to bring along a second MIKE linebacker, whoever that is going to be. We've gotten work out of (LB) Rocky Boiman at SAM linebacker and (LB Akeem) Jordan at WILL linebacker. Good competition for that backup position and good depth, too."

On rookie LBs Joe Mays and Justin Roland making an impact in practice: "Sure, no question about it. That's why we play preseason games and that's why we play these situations out here. You want them on the field as much as possible with guys who can play. We had some good plays from Joe Mays. Every day is a little bit different, but that's why we put him in that situation. He's got a chance."

On DT Dan Klecko's size at defensive tackle: "We've watched him on other teams and we knew he's played some tackle. The thing he has to rely on is his quickness; his smarts and his quickness. So far we've seen some good things about him. He's not the biggest tackle, we know that, but he's always had that pretty good quickness, so again he could be a role player for us."

On whether DT Trevor Laws and DE Bryan Smith will practice soon: "We anticipate it. It's day by day, but I can see in the next couple of days, I think they have a chance. It'd be good to see them out there."

On having linebackers who can run: "It's good to have those linebackers that have good size and can run; you don't find those a lot of times. A lot of times you find smaller linebackers who can run. We've got some nice size linebackers. Our linebackers are 250-255. Omar's about 235, but all three of them can run. So that's a nice thing, and they are pretty good blitzers also."

On whether he is more comfortable having LB Omar Gaither on the outside: "Yes. He's one of the guys who two years ago played some outside linebacker and was productive. We thought that he could handle that position and he has so far. He's a guy who could always go back to MIKE if we had to in an emergency, stuff like that, or he's a smart enough linebacker and could play SAM. I think he feels comfortable at WILL and he looks good at WILL linebacker."

On how good it is having a vocal leader like Omar: "You like it. I'm not saying he's a leader; he kind of helps out those other guys as far as the communication there. I think it's good for Stewart Bradley, too. Stewart can handle it but I think it's nice to have that back up in Omar, as far as talking."

On LB Chris Gocong's level of comfort compared to last year: "Every year it's going to get better, every year. I think it's more natural, you don't see very many mistakes out of him. He might have a gap responsibility every once and a while, but he seems very comfortable. The thing about Chris, we're also going to use him in third down situations, so he can be a versatile linebacker."

On whether he has talked to CB Lito Sheppard: "Yeah, we've talked. He knows. And it's between Lito and me, and he knows how I feel. He's just going to keep battling, I think his attitude's good out here."

On whether he has any idea about when Asante will be back: "No. I know they are still doing some tests on him, but I have no idea."

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