Oct 2, 2012, 11:56 AM EDT
Brian Rolle found himself in an unlikely position this time last year: weakside linebacker.
A sixth-round pick out of Ohio State in 2011, Rolle wound up replacing fellow rookie Casey Matthews in Week 3, and was thrust into the Eagles’ starting lineup from that point on. Perhaps even more unlikely, the 5’10″ Rolle was arguably their best linebacker the rest of the way, and entered this summer the favorite to start at weakside again.
Continuing in a string of unlikelies, Brian Rolle was released on Tuesday morning, exactly one year to the day since he made his first NFL start.
Rolle had a disappointing preseason, bad enough that it cost him his job less than two weeks before the regular season began. This also despite the fact that the guy coaches really wanted to replace him with — Jamar Chaney — was hurt all summer. Instead, they tabbed veteran special teams ace Akeem Jordan for Rolle’s spot.
Rolle was adamant he would be back, but when Jordan missed Sunday night’s game with a hamstring injury, it was Chaney who was in his place.
Still, his release sort of came from out of nowhere, but seems to be in part a response to the struggles of the kick coverage unit. David Wilson averaged 36.2 yards per return for the Giants on Sunday, putting the Eagles’ defense in a precarious position for much of the evening as Eli Manning too often was given a short field to work with.
Indeed, while he may not be the source of the problem, the club’s own stats indicate Rolle has been a non-factor on special teams all season. When there are two players ahead of you on the depth chart, and you can’t find another way to contribute, there really is very little reason the team should keep you around.
Second-year player Adrian Moten, an undrafted linebacker out of Maryland, was signed to replace Rolle. He spent the summer at Lehigh, and previously appeared in 12 games in 2011 between the Seahawks and Colts.
Eagles fans likely won’t miss Rolle. Being an undersized defender didn’t help his cause in this town to begin with, and his Twitter spats with those critical of his ability brought negative press.
However, it’s fascinating to see how quickly he went from late-round draft pick to best linebacker on the team to gone entirely. Nobody thought Rolle was going to be the next big thing, but he showed some upside in a solid rookie season.
Then again perhaps that was merely a sign of how bad the linebackers truly were last year, and his fall from grace a sign of how far they’ve come since. Clearly there wasn’t anyplace else left to go from here.
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