For the second straight year, it appears a late-round pick from Ohio State is going to provide immediate impact on defense.
Linebacker Brian Rolle closed out an impressive preseason with 1.5 sacks among his three total tackles in the 24-14 win over the Jets. For the entire exhibition slate, Rolle finished with 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks. After no mini-camps or OTAs, the sixth-round pick quickly accelerated up the depth chart and is now working in the first-team nickel package. Rolle started Thursday night's game at the weakside linebacker spot.
"I know I work hard and when you work hard you get put in the right situations," Rolle said. "I feel like the coaches saw that. I was a guy that came in regardless of what my situation was I was going work hard."
Just like starting free safety and fellow Buckeye alum Kurt Coleman, a seventh-round pick in 2010, the perceived knock on Rolle was size. Listed at 5-10, 227 pounds, Rolle tumbled on draft day despite being a team captain and earning All Big-Ten honors in college. Rolle's toughness, instincts and speed more than make up for anything lost in the measureables. Rolle's speed was on display when coordinator Juan Castillo called for a double edge blitz late in the first quarter Thursday night. Rolle and strongside linebacker Keenan Clayton attacked and Rolle thought he was in the clear for the sack.
"I saw the quarterback's eyes get big and next thing you know I'm thinking I'm going to get the sack and Keenan got it," Rolle said as the sack was split between the pair. "Being out there with Keenan is like having my brother next to me. It was a lot of fun getting out there and playing a lot."
Rolle said that he blitzed very little at Ohio State, but thinks he fits what the Eagles want from the linebacker spot.
"I feel that I'm one of the quickest guys here at linebacker as far as blitzing and getting around linemen," Rolle said. "I just love to play the game. I love to be on the field. I know what I'm capable of."
And Rolle had no problem showcasing that ability against the opposing teams this preseason.
"The first three teams we played I bet they wished they had me now. I'm out there making plays and having fun," Rolle said. "You watch the Jets on 'Hard Knocks' and say, 'Man, what would it be like?' Now you play against them and I bet they're going to watch film and say, 'Man, I wish I had got that guy.' It lets them know they missed out on a great thing."
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