As the attention regarding the Philadelphia Eagles continues to center around Michael Vick, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott has plenty of areas that need his attention as the preseason in now in full swing. Even though the first seven question of his press conference Sunday dealt with Vick and the Wildcat formation, McDermott did discuss two of the interesting position battles on the roster - middle linebacker and free safety.
Middle linebacker Joe Mays made just one tackle in a quarter of work Thursday night against the Patriots. But he did a good job of communicating the calls to his players, looked sure of his assignments and played well in space as the first-team defense spent a considerable amount of time in the nickel formation.
"You look from A-to-Z on it and you look how he handles himself in the locker room before the game, how he handles himself in pre-game warm up, and how he commands the huddle," McDermott said. "That's all a part of it. Then, you evaluate the whole package, and I thought he did a nice job for his first time out there. It's important that he continues to make progress."
One linebacker who has stood out is rookie Moise Fokou. The backup strongside linebacker had a pair of tackles.
"He's done a nice job and it all starts with his preparation," McDermott said on the seventh-round pick. "He takes great pride in the work he puts in off the field. He brings a lot to the table at that SAM linebacker position. When the lights come on the look in his eye is the right look, the look that we want to see from our players."
The battle for the starting free safety job was one of the most heated at the onset of training camp. Quintin Demps entered camp with the job, but veteran Sean Jones had his eyes on winning it from him. From McDermott's account, Demps only helped himself Thursday night.
"Quintin Demps did a nice job. They both did a nice job. Quintin, specifically, did a nice job," McDermott said. "Again, you're talking about a young player that is really playing in his first game as a starter and he handled himself well. He tackled well. That's point A. Now it's important where we're going in terms of getting to Point B."
McDermott added that Demps has spent a lot of time working on the finer details of his tackling.
"Pursuit angles and leverage and footwork are all a part of tackling," McDermott said. "It's an area of his game that he spends a considerable amount of time on and will continue to work on."
One of the problems, although it's a good problem to have, for McDermott is sorting out all of the talent in the secondary. At cornerback, McDermott has two Pro Bowl-caliber players in Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown, but also an outstanding nickel corner in Joselio Hanson and another solid veteran with extensive experience in Ellis Hobbs. McDermott said that the secondary is shaping out the way he envisioned.
"It has. We have players back there that can make plays and have made plays over the course of their career. But it's important with the new faces we have back there, you mentioned Ellis earlier and with Quintin Demps, that they gain a chemistry amongst themselves and they get comfortable with one another."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 4:28 p.m., August 16