Sep 8, 2012, 5:00 PM EST
We mentioned DeMeco Ryans had been replaced by Jamar Chaney in the defense’s nickel package at practice on Thursday. Following up on those reports, when practice resumed the following afternoon, Ryans was back to work in the nickel, suggesting the experiment as a three-down linebacker is not dead yet.
In an attempt to clarify just what the heck is going on at the heart of the Eagles’ defense, Andy Reid only made the picture more convoluted, admitting all six of the team’s linebackers will play on Sunday. So along with Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, and Akeem Jordan, apparently we’ll see plenty of Chaney, Casey Matthews, and Brian Rolle as well.
“We had success with it towards the end of last year,” Reid said. “Guys know their roles. They can focus in on it. They’re all interchangeable, which is a good thing. They all know each other’s positions and have gotten reps at all positions, which works out well.”
While Geoff Mosher categorizes this as a carousel, I’ll save the skepticism until we see exactly how much the subs are utilized and in what roles. I can see a scenario where Ryans gives way to the speedier Chaney in third-and-long situations, but where Matthews or Rolle fit into the equation, I’m not really sure.
Dion Lewis is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury, which means Bryce Brown could be the guy who carries the load behind Shady on Sunday. At this point, the only knock on Brown is his pass protection, which is a huge part of the running back’s job in Reid’s offense, and may convince the coaches to lean heavily on McCoy.
As a pure rusher though, the seventh-round rookie has been ultra impressive. With is fluid running style, burst, and power — not to mention ability to catch the ball out of the backfield — Brown looks like he may be a superior talent to Lewis. Brown carried 22 times for 122 yards (4.4 avg) and a score in the preseason, along with seven receptions for 62 ticks.
Browns linebacker Scott Fujita got a reprieve from the suspension handed down for his involvement in the Saints bounty scandal — for now. Word is the suspensions will be reinstated eventually, but Fujita is available to play on Sunday after an arbitrator’s ruling came down late Friday afternoon.
Fujita could shore up a shaky situation at outside linebacker, where the Browns were thin in the wake of the suspension and Chris Gocong’s injury. However, Fujita is banged up himself, and the word is he likely won’t take the field on Sunday. Minor break for the Birds, though Fujita is no game changer either.
On the other hand, expectations for Cleveland’s Trent Richardson are on the rise for this Sunday. At one point, whether or not the third overall pick would even play so soon after having a procedure on his knee was not a sure thing, and many believed if he did, the Browns would ease the back into the offense.
Estimates have changed quite a bit, and despite his questionable status, Richardson could have a full load on his plate against the Eagles. Browns GM Tom Hecker told a Canton newspaper “if he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go.” If the Browns intend to stay in the game, they may feel the need to keep handing the ball to Richardson, partly to take pressure off of their rookie QB, partly to eat some clock, but also just because he’s already got to be their biggest playmaker. Brandon Jackson will surely see some snaps as well though.
>> Interview: Browns’ Heckert happy old boss sees improving team [CantonRep.com]
WR Riley Cooper and S Colt Anderson are out. Both normally contribute on special teams. Their absences could be felt if dangerous return man Josh Cribbs has a big day.
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