Eagles Must Have Young Veterans Step Up in 2010

Written By Bob Cunningham On Saturday, March 20, 2010

Laws is only one of several guys who must step up.

Since the free agent class was very weak this offseason, the Eagles are going to have to do most of their improving internally. They will have to squeeze everything they can out of a few guys who have not lived up to their billing as either high draft picks or high-priced free agents.

And it's not just guys like Trevor Laws, Stacy Andrews, and Victor Abiamiri. They're the obvious bunch to point to because Laws and Abiamiri were second-round picks who haven't panned out yet, and Andrews was given a heft payday to bring him to Philadelphia.

(By the way, I recently found out that Laws and Abiamiri were roommates at Notre Dame. Both second-round picks, both from Notre Dame, both are disappointments, and they were roommates. Maybe they need to find someone else to bunk with?)

But guys like Stewart Bradley, Todd Herremans, Chris Gocong, Brodrick Bunkley, and Mike Patterson must all be better than they've been in previous seasons. Bradley is of course a special case because of his injury, but he is going to have to battle through it and be the linebacker he was in '08 so this defense can get better around him.

Gocong is an obvious guy as well. He looks poised to be in a training camp battle with last year's seventh-round pick Moise Fokou for the SAM linebacker position and, while it's good to see Fokou make the team as a late-round pick, everyone is hoping that Gocong can win the job.

He hasn't really taken his game to the next level like I thought he would a couple seasons ago, but maybe on a contract year he'll have the extra bit of motivation to play up to his obvious athletic ability.

Bunkley and Patterson are guys who regressed last season after the duo had a Pro Bowl-caliber season in '08. It could have been the lack of sufficient talent around them in the front seven, but they appeared to lose the hard-nosed attitude that had some calling them one of the best defensive tackle tandems in the league.

Neither guy is a great pass-rusher, but they've got to be more stout against the run. The Cowboys offensive line man-handled those guys, and with Bradley likely playing at less than 100 percent behind them, they're going to have to eat up blocks and allow him to roam free behind them.

Herremans got thrown around by Albert Haynesworth and the rest of the defensive tackles he faced, and will have to increase his upper-body strength if he wants to keep his spot. He can't keep getting pushed back into McNabb and expect to keep his job, so a few more reps on the bench press will go a long way.

The Eagles will of course look to make moves in the draft, but a class of rookies is only going to do so much. If this team wants a legitimate shot at taking the next step in 2010, they're going to need the young veterans on this team to take their game to the next level.

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