Eagles Television Network's play-by-play announcer Kevin Reilly knows a thing or two about linebackers. A seventh-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins out of Villanova in 1973, Reilly spent two seasons with the Eagles and was a captain on special teams. Unlike most broadcasters, Reilly is calling the action instead of providing the analysis like most former players. You can see Reilly in action tonight (6abc - Philadelphia market) at 7 PM when the Eagles close out the preseason against the New York Jets.
As a former linebacker, Reilly provided some insight into what's going on at the middle linebacker position. After Stewart Bradley's injury, Joe Mays received the first crack at the starting spot. Omar Gaither took over the first-team reps in practice this week. Head coach Andy Reid said that he didn't need to see Gaither take any preseason snaps at the position - Gaither was the starter in the 2007 season. Mays will start at middle linebacker tonight.
Reilly said that there's a lot to like about Mays, but he has a lot of developing to do.
"They (the coaches) really like Joe's intensity. They really like that he's a student of the game," Reilly said. "But he seems to be playing on the back of his heels, thinking. You have to process so much out there on the field, especially since he's the quarterback of the defense."
Reilly said that Mays' size could also be an issue for him.
"Joe's 5-11. That hasn't hurt him from a leverage standpoint" Reilly said. "But I think this is the first time he's seen 6-4, 6-5 offensive linemen across from him. It seems like he's a half-second late getting to the ball carrier."
Reilly has been impressed by the maturity and athleticism of seventh-round pick Moise Fokou, who played at middle linebacker for a few first-team reps against the Jaguars last week.
"I was worried because he never played it in high school, college, even Pop Warner," Reilly said. "It's a game of angles there in the middle. As an outside linebacker, you only have to worry about half of the field. Outside of some expected mistakes, he chucked a guy beyond the 5-yard limit, I was really impressed with his athletic ability and his ability to see the field and make plays."
Even though Fokou is only 228 pounds and will see offensive linemen over 100 pounds heavier than him, Reilly said that "if you're good enough to anticipate and get to the point of attack before the blocker then you have the advantage."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 12:01 p.m., September 3