When the Eagles acquired Ernie Sims several days prior to this year's draft, general manager Howie Roseman declared that Sims was a "starter in the National Football League" - essentially proclaiming Sims the likely starter at weakside linebacker for the 2010 Eagles. The post-draft mini-camps and Organized Team Activities have only reinforced that notion as Sims has spent all his time with the first-team defense, working mainly alongside Stewart Bradley and Moise Fokou. But with Sims gearing up to see a lot of the field this year, where does that leave Akeem Jordan.
Jordan, who came to the Eagles as an undrafted free agent following the 2007 NFL draft, overtook the weakside linebacker spot during the latter half of the 2008 season and entered 2009 as the guy on the weak side. A slew of injuries to the linebackers last year, including to Jordan himself, meant that he also spent some time playing middle linebacker for the first time as a pro. And it was a solid year for Jordan as he notched a career high in tackles (82) and grabbed the first two interceptions of his career.
So now that Jordan, 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, is nominally a backup, he helps fortify impressive depth at the linebacker position; consider that former starters Omar Gaither and Joe Mays along with two of this year's draft picks, Keenan Clayton and Jamar Chaney, are all fighting to improve their standings in the second-team pecking order. But for Jordan, that competition is what it's all about.
"It's all about pushing the other guys," Jordan said. "It's all about competition. If it's not competition, then it's not any fun.
"Ernie's a great linebacker, so is Stew and Moise. All the guys are good. So it's just about pushing everybody to their limit and hopefully I'm pushing them to be better so that we'll be a better team."
Jordan certainly seems to have a reasonable outlook, and that's not surprising from a player who's worked himself up the ladder before.
"My mindset is I'm going in there to win any position and I'm going to play as hard as I can wherever they put me at," he said. "I'm going to push the guy in front of me to his limit; that way I'll be better and he'll get better. I know the guy in front of me doesn't want to lose his spot, and I want that spot."
Like Gaither, Jordan has the advantage of having played all three linebacker positions, improving his chances of seeing the field.
"It's important for everybody to have versatility and not just play one position, because you never know where you could be at with injuries, even for a week, two weeks, a month or for the rest of the season," he said. "I played there last year after a couple of people went down, so I'm comfortable there."
And although Jordan is pushing Sims for a job, that doesn't mean Jordan harbors any animosity to his new teammate. In fact, it's just the opposite.
"When we're out on the field, it's not really like we're going against each other, we're just going to make plays to help each other. It's not so much that we're competing against each other, but we're helping each other," Jordan said. "He's been in the league longer than me, so he's teaching me things just like I'm teaching him things about our scheme. So he can catch on quickly and then he teaches me things that I mess up on that he's done before."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 7:57 a.m., June 6