One of many new faces for the Eagles during mini-camp, Alex Hall might have been easy to miss had it not been for his towering 6-foot-5 frame. The tallest player on the Eagles defense, Hall was acquired from the Cleveland Browns as part of the Sheldon Brown/Chris Gocong trade and spent the weekend working as a defensive end, a position he hasn't played consistently since his college career at division II St. Augustine's.
A seventh-round draft pick in 2008, Hall surprised as a rookie with Cleveland, starting two games and notching three sacks as a 3-4 outside linebacker under Romeo Crennel. However, Hall got lost in the shuffle in 2009 under new coach Eric Mangini, allowing the Eagles to bring in the big man in a package that also included two draft picks. Originally, Hall was expected to compete with Moise Fokou at the strongside linebacker position, but while that still hasn't been ruled out by head coach Andy Reid, Hall's abilities as a pass rusher led to his prolonged look at defensive end.
"He worked a little bit with the linebackers in the offseason program, then we put his hand down here and gave him a chance to rush the passer," Reid said of Hall. "The thing he does best is rush the passer. He's very good at that and he's got a nice feel at the line of scrimmage. He was playing the outside linebacker in the 3-4, so it gives us the flexibility to go either way with it. I think this gives him even a little bit more of an opportunity to do what he does best."
For his part, Hall says that he's a good soldier who will do whatever he can to help the team win.
"Any position the team wants me to play, I'll play it," he said. "I feel like I could be a great asset to the team playing end or linebacker, so it doesn't matter."
Hall said he's still getting reacquainted with playing on the line, but that the consistent reps will help his progress.
"I have to get used to functioning and how to take on certain blocks and things like that, lining up in certain places," he said. There was an improvement "during mini-camp. When I got to learn the defense it got a little bit slower, and overall I think it was a great experience."
In addition to adjusting from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense, Hall is also getting used to his new teammates and coaches.
"Just getting to know the team overall was a good feeling," Hall said, reflecting on the mini-camp. "It was a great experience getting out there with the guys and running around, just learning a few plays."
Lining up at defensive end, Hall is an interesting sight because the 250 pounds he carries are dispersed throughout that 6-foot-5 body, making him look more like a basketball player than a football player. But in today's NFL, there is nothing more valuable than a player who can get to the quarterback, and that's what Hall is expected to do. While he's still hungry to improve, Hall didn't totally deny Reid's assertion that rushing the passer is what he does best.
"It's something I'm still trying to improve on like everything else," Hall said of his pass rushing ability, "It's something I'm good at though."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 6:30 p.m., May 3