Philadelphia Eagles News

State Of The Defensive Tackle Position

Few positions on the Eagles roster have been as stable over the last half-decade as defensive tackle. Since the Eagles took Brodrick Bunkley with the 14th pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, he and Mike Patterson have been mainstays in the middle for an Eagles defense that has been stout against the run. In fact, since Bunkley became a full-time starter in 2007, he and Patterson have anchored the sixth-best run defense in the NFL (99.1 rushing yards per game). Let's take a look at the position as the Eagles are in the bye week …

What They've Accomplished: This season, the two big defensive tackles are at it again. The Eagles have the ninth-ranked rushing defense in the league, and have held five straight Pro Bowl rushers to less than 100 yards and no touchdowns in each game. The last touchdown an opposing team has scored on the ground against the Eagles was in the first quarter against Washington in Week 4. Bunkley and Patterson have combined for 20 tackles this year, three of which were tackles for loss, and have disrupted countless other plays.

But the two starters don't tell the whole story at defensive tackle for the Eagles.

Trevor Laws and Antonio Dixon provide depth up front for the Eagles defense, and the two backup tackles have done a phenomenal job through seven games this season. With Bunkley missing the last two games due to an injured elbow, both Laws and Dixon have stepped their game up and have been productive at a crucial position on the defense.

Laws had the game of his career in a Week 3 tilt at Jacksonville. He had a career-high five tackles, and recorded the first two sacks of his three-year career. He also had a QB hurry and two knockdowns that afternoon against Jaguars quarterback David Garrard.

The second-year tackle out of Miami, Dixon is one of the "feel-good" stories on this Eagles roster. Overcoming countless obstacles in his troubled childhood, Dixon has played inspiring football while starting in place of the injured Bunkley the last two weeks, leading head coach Andy Reid to single him out as a "bright spot" in an otherwise frustrating game in Tennessee. Dixon has 13 tackles on the season, three for a loss, and two sacks (one in each of the past two weeks).

What Lies Ahead: With Bunkley expected back after the bye week, Dixon and Laws will both return to their backup roles along the defensive line. But don't expect their playing time to diminish. With Bunkley still recovering from his elbow strain, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott will continue to use his rotation at defensive tackle to get Dixon and Laws plenty of snaps.

-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 7:00 p.m., October 29

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