Ricky Sapp to Play SAM Linebacker, Not Defensive End

Written By Bob Cunningham On Friday, April 30, 2010

Moving Ricky Sapp from DE to OLB will be a project.


As I reported last week, Ricky Sapp, one of the Eagles' fifth-round draft picks, will not be playing defensive end as he did in college at Clemson. Instead, Sapp will be competing with Moise Fokou, Alex Hall, and perhaps fourth-round pick Keenan Clayton, at SAM linebacker.

The spot likely would have been up for grabs had Chris Gocong not been traded, but the Eagles moving him to Cleveland said loud and clear that the spot would go to whomever could take it.

Sapp likely comes in as the third guy in line for the job, but don't count him out. Fokou was a pleasant surprise last season, and Andy Reid seems to like Hall (acquired in the Gocong/Sheldon Brown trade), but neither guy is established and could easily be overtaken with a strong performance in training camp and preseason.

That being said, it still looks like a bit of a long-shot that Sapp opens up the season as the starter.

He certainly has the talent to overtake both of them, but Reid and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott seem to favor guys with some experience over rookies.

Historically, rookies don't start for Reid, but a few guys have come in and performed well as rookies, which might have changed Reid's perspective and thoughts on rookies.

But if Sapp doesn't win the spot at SAM outright, the coaching staff cannot make the same mistake it made with Gocong. They became so hellbent on turning him into a traditional linebacker that they completely ignored his ability to rush the passer and, in the process, sold the whole team short.

Sapp will certainly be a project, but the work they put into him should pay off in the end.


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