Linebacker Akeem Jordan started the 2009 season entrenched as the starter on the weak side.
He held that position until he suffered a knee injury late in the November matchup against Dallas. After missing four games, he started two of the final three regular season games at middle linebacker - his first NFL games at the position - as defensive coordinator Sean McDermott tried to account for the losses of Stewart Bradley and Omar Gaither.
In the off-season, the Eagles traded for former first-round pick Ernie Sims who has looked impressive as the first-team weakside linebacker in the OTAs. With Bradley back in the middle, it appears Jordan will be coming off the bench to help both outside linebacker spots in 2010.
But don't tell Jordan that.
"They just have us all in here competing. It doesn't matter where you're at. It's how you play," Jordan said. "It's more of a competition to see who wins the spots. We'll see come this training camp."
A rookie free agent signing of the Eagles in 2007, the 6-1, 230-pound Jordan has defied the odds to be a productive part of the defense. He went to James Madison, a non-BCS school. He wasn't invited to the Scouting Combine. Even some of his college coaches told Jordan that he would be a good Arena Football League player.
Despite the injury last year, Jordan was third on the team with a career-high 82 tackles and he was the first Eagles linebacker to notch two interceptions in a season since Ike Reese in 2004.
Playing this season under a one-year restricted free agent tender, the 24-year-old Jordan should still be an integral part of the defense whether it's as a starter or a cover specialist.
After being thrust into the merry-go-round at middle linebacker last season, Jordan knows what Bradley's return means to this defense.
"He's looking good. You can't even tell that he had knee surgery or that he's coming off of an injury. I can't wait to see him on the field," Jordan said about Bradley. "He was the leader of the defense and to lose somebody like that right before the season it's hard because who do you look to? Who is the leader of the defense?"
To further fortify the defense, the Eagles drafted nine defensive players including first-round pick Brandon Graham.
"I think he's going to do phenomenal," Jordan said of Graham. "He's looking real good in OTAs and mini-camps. He's strong. He's looking good in the weight room. He's catching on to the defense and that's the hardest part - catching on to the defense and knowing your assignments."
What's going to help further sharpen the defense's skills for this season is going against the high-octane offense led by new quarterback Kevin Kolb.
"He's looked good from day one. It's his chance to shine right now," Jordan said of Kolb. "Fans don't get to see him because it's mini-camps, but when they come to training camp they'll see how good he is.
"Most teams don't have this many weapons. It's a headache every day trying to go against them because you can't just pick out one."
But if Jordan can crack the puzzle of the offense at training camp, he'll have a shot to take back a starting job that most people never thought he'd win in the first place.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 10:40 p.m., June 17