Philadelphia Eagles News

Fokou, Wilhelm Showing Versatility

As the regular season nears, the coaching staff is trying to get a handle on how different players can handle certain situations. If a player offers the versatility to play multiple positions, it helps his chances of making the final roster.

On Thursday night against the Jaguars, two of the Eagles linebackers both got some reps at unfamiliar positions. Moise Fokou, the seventh-round draft pick out of Maryland who has risen up the depth chart this preseason, got his first game experience at middle linebacker.

"Never," Fokou said when asked if he'd ever played the MIKE position before. "I thought I did a decent job. I tried to be more vocal out there, tried to get the defense set up right.

"The thing is, you have to take care of yourself too, you also have to get lined up and play defense."

Fokou got on the field with the first-team defense, and he's excited that he's been given the opportunity to prove he belongs on the field with the big boys.

"I think they just like the fact that I like to be around the ball," Fokou said. "It's a little bit easier for me to do it from the middle because I can go left and right.

"At this point, to be a starter, I think you have to prove that you can be consistent. Every play they're counting on you. At times I'm consistent and at times there might be a lapse here or there."

Fokou has previously been playing the strongside linebacker position.

"I'd say you take on a lot more heavier guys (at middle linbacker), like centers and guards" Fokou said of the difference between the two spots, "As opposed to the outside when you take on tackles and guards."

Fokou wasn't perfect on Thursday though. He picked up two penalties, including pass interference on a third-and-long. He's still adjusting from college to the pros.

"I think it's just being a young player," he said of the penalty. "In college, when a receiver comes up on you, you're allowed to re-route or jam him, give him a little push. And then in the NFL, something that I'm still learning is you have to use body presence to re-route the receiver."

Matt Wilhelm, a former 3-4 middle linebacker, was also moved around defensively, getting his first reps at SAM as an Eagle.

"It felt good," Wilhelm said of the switch. "I think the coaches are obviously trying to see who fits where best.

"For me, it's a new system so I have an open mind. I can bounce around a little bit. Moise being a young player, he can do the same. I think we have some strong veteran guys that have been in the system, and their statures are kind of concrete. So for me, it's kind of get in where I fit in. As long as these coaches want to get me on the football field, where I play doesn't matter. As long as I understand and execute, that's what truly matters to me."

Wilhelm put on his strongest performance as an Eagle against the Jaguars, as he was constantly around the ball. He credits an increasing familiarity with the offense for his improved production.

"They trusted me in the fourth quarter to go out there and make plays," he said, "And I just tried to take advantage of every opportunity I had."

-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 4:29 p.m., August 29

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