Philadelphia Eagles News

Wilhelm Adjusting To New Defense

Matt Wilhelm has officially been an Eagle for five days now and he's undergoing a difficult transition in a number of ways. Prior to coming to the Eagles, Wilhelm had spent his entire career (six seasons) with the San Diego Chargers, playing one of two middle linebacker spots in a 3-4 defense. Now, he finds himself on a new team, surrounded by new faces, and playing a new position in a different style of defense.

"I'm getting there," Wilhelm said regarding the status of his transition." There are an awful lot of terminology differences.

"Obviously, being the lone guy in the middle takes some getting used to. But the coaches are being patient with me, they realize I'm going on three or four days trying to pick up a defense that Jim Johnson's constructed over many, many years."

The transition is going well enough that Wilhelm is already running the huddle for the second-team base defense in practice.

"The guys respect me," Wilhelm said, "Having been in the huddle before for six years. They listen to the call and I'm as decisive as I can be making the calls that I know for right now."

While Joe Mays appears to have the makings of a prolific run stopper at the middle linebacker position, Wilhelm is known more for his coverage skills.

"It allows you to be an athlete out there," Wilhelm said of being in coverage. "Covering guys, reading routes, reading quarterbacks and stuff like that - That's a big part of what I've done in San Diego the last few years."

Most of all, Wilhelm is excited to get comfortable in the vaunted Eagles defense.

"For right now, It's still learning for me," he said. "So it's not as fast and downhill as I would like to be.

But in due time it'll come. And as I grasp this system I'll be able to fly around faster and be more downhill and more physical as well."

Even though he still has a long way to go to learn the defense, Wilhelm is confident that he will be an important cog in the Eagles defensive machine this season.

"That was my intent in coming here," he said, "And that's why the Eagles came after me. They know, in some way, shape, or form that I can contribute.

"Whether it will be third down, first and second down, as a backup, as a starter, we don't know yet."

-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 5:36 p*.m., August 9 *

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