A second-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2007, Victor Abiamiri was expected to compete for a starting job opposite Trent Cole at the left defensive end spot in this past season's training camp.
However, a dislocated wrist at Lehigh sidelined the Eagles' biggest end (6-4, 267 pounds) for the first five games of the regular season. When he returned to the lineup, Abiamiri became part of the defensive line rotation that had 48 sacks in the regular season. Abiamiri accounted for two of them, the first of his NFL career. The first sack was one of the few highlights in the 36-7 loss to Baltimore, the return for Abiamiri to his hometown.
Abiamiri's play improved as the season went on. He recorded his first career forced fumble when he brought down Jason Campbell for a sack in the Week 16 loss at Washington. In that same game, however, Abiamiri suffered a Lisfranc sprain and missed the regular season finale against Dallas and the Wild Card win at Minnesota.
After fighting to get back on the field, Abiamiri contributed in the final two games of the Eagles' season. In the Divisional Round win over the Giants, he recovered a fumble with just 58 seconds left in the game to seal the win. In the NFC Championship Game against Arizona, Abiamiri sacked Kurt Warner and had two tackles for loss.
For the season, Abiamiri had 28 tackles and three sacks (including playoffs). He also accounted for seven QB hurries, two pass knockdowns, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
The question for Abiamiri now is can he parlay his good play from the playoffs and potentially seize the starting left end spot in 2009? Or at the very least bolster the rotation to provide rest for the assortment of weapons at the defensive end spot. Juqua Parker, the starting left end last season, started the season off on a tear. Against San Francisco in Week 6, Parker had six tackles, a sack and an interception return for a touchdown. For the rest of the year, Parker had six QB hurries but only a half-sack. Would more snaps from Abiamiri earlier in the season have helped Parker at the end?
Abiamiri's size and ability to hold at the point of attack at the very least make him a good end for stopping the run. If he can be counted upon to do that on first and second down in 2009, it will allow the pass-rush specialists like Parker, Chris Clemons and Bryan Smith much more dangerous on third down.