Sean McDermott wants a defense that runs to the football, that flies around the field with speed and a sense of purpose, and he wants a defense that dictates to the opposition with its "downhill" attack. And after all of the additions to the group, nine of the 13 draft picks in April were defensive players, the one really key player in the mix could be linebacker Ernie Sims, acquired prior to the draft in a trade with Detroit.
Sims, with his speed and his tenacity, has a chance to make a lot of plays here. The Eagles are extremely high on the veteran, who has been born with new life as an Eagle. He is a sideline-to-sideline player who has excellent cover skills, and that is going to be a very important part of the equation here. The Eagles need Sims to cover a lot of ground in the short passing game and in the nickel pass coverage, an area that they struggled with at times last year.
Last season was a difficult one for Sims, who battled injuries in the losing situation of Detroit. A new scheme didn't help matters, either. The Eagles think he will rebound to his pre-2009 form, when he was a consistent and durable performer for the Lions in a system that better suited his talents. Here, the Eagles need to find ways to give Sims some space in which to play. Teams are certainly going to try to run his way and hope to lock a 330-pound guard on his 230-pound frame. The Eagles want Sims to attack the line of scrimmage, to blitz when he has a chance and to be a tackling machine behind the line of scrimmage.
If Sims is making tackles seven and eight yards down the field, something is not working as the Eagles are drawing it up. They want him playing in the offensive backfield, and they want him on the field for all three snaps, and they want Ernie Sims to be a major factor. Having Stewart Bradley in the middle of the defense is huge, and the impact of the off-season additions on the pass rush and line of scrimmage will dictate a lot of the success here, but don't overlook what Sims potentially means to the defense.
He is here to find the football and to make plays, and the Eagles are going to look to design ways to free him up and allow him to use his speed to hunt down the ball.
**BROSTEK: TE'O-NESHEIM HAS WILL TO SUCCEED
Former NFL offensive lineman Bern Brostek came into Daniel Te'o-Nesheim's life when Te'o-Nesheim showed up for practice at Hawaii Prep "as a scrawny ninth-grader with shoes that his mother had bought for him that were three sizes too big. She said he would grow into them, and he eventually did," said Brostek. "That kid just busted his butt for four years and then made the best of it and went to the University of Washington."
Brostek believes in Te'o-Nesheim and thinks that once he gets the mental part of the game in order, he will thrive with the Eagles. But there is a long way to go. The NFL is a complicated game to play.
"I'm really glad Philly took him," said Brostek, now the offensive coordinator at Hawaii Prep. "It's a good defense for him. He played here and never came out of the game. He never quits. He has his drive to always try to make people smile -- his teammates, his coaches and the fans. I know that he will put everything he has into it. He'll do well there. That D works for him."
**ALLEN'S WEIGHT PUSHES UP
Maybe it means nothing, but the Eagles changed Nate Allen's weight from 207 pounds to 210 pounds on Tuesday as he weighed in and dug into the team's rookie program.
"I feel really good about things, about where I am. There is a lot of work to do, but I'm here ready to go," he said.
**A TYPICAL ROOKIE DAY
The Eagles rookies and selected veterans begin practice on Wednesday for their camp, and here is an idea of what a typical day is like for the young men: A van picks the players up at the team hotel between 6:30 and 7 a.m. They arrive at the NovaCare Complex and get treatments from the athletic training staff, have breakfast and then have meetings starting at 8:30 a.m. Those meetings, which include special teams, positional meetings and the entire group, last until about 10:50 a.m.
Then it is time for practice, which runs for about 90 minutes. Players wear helmets and shorts and there is no tackling. It is an intense, instructional situation and the players benefit tremendously from the work.
One player to keep an eye on is tight end Cornelius Ingram, who said he is ready to take part in all activities in practice after missing last season with a torn ACL suffered in training camp.