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Versatile Ends Provide Options For Eagles

Defensive end is one of the deepest, most talented positions on the Eagles roster. The problem is that depending on what the Eagles do when the roster is trimmed to 53 by Saturday, there could be a good pass rusher left off the team.

That's where versatility comes into play.

The ability for some of the Eagles defensive ends to slide into the tackle position on passing downs could alleviate the depth issue. The Eagles kept six defensive ends last season and at least one was inactive every week. In fact, third-round draft pick Bryan Smith wasn't active for a single game as a rookie.

This season, there are seven defensive ends battling for jobs on the Eagles roster - Victor Abiamiri, Jason Babin, Chris Clemons, Trent Cole, Darren Howard, Juqua Parker and Bryan Smith. Meanwhile, there are four veterans battling at defensive tackle - Brodrick Bunkley, Dan Klecko, Trevor Laws and Mike Patterson - along with a pair of young players in Josh Gaines and Willie Williams.

Could the ability to mix and match where the ends line up mean that the team goes heavy on the roster at end, but light at tackle?

"There are different options, which is a good quality to have, yet at the same time we have to make sure that we keep the right guys that fit into our system," defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. "It does give us great flexibility. It's important that we can have that same flexibility on first and second down as well as third down. You look to create matchups with those defensive ends inside or outside. I think that's a trend in the NFL right now, going back to a couple of years ago."

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 2:50 p.m., August 30

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