August 27 Philadelphia Daily News
“The Eagles still have those 13 drafted rookies, plus a handful of undrafted newcomers, who remain in the hunt for roster spots. For several players, this youth wave is bound to have a ripple effect, endangering what looked to be secure positions a month ago, when training camp began.
Moise Fokou and Macho Harris, for example, started for the Birds as rookies last year, but after position changes, neither seems to have a clearly defined role on the team that is scheduled to face the host Kansas City Chiefs in a preseason game tonight. And tonight figures to provide them little clarification, with the starters set to play about three quarters.
Is veteran backup linebacker Omar Gaither safe? What about tight end Cornelius Ingram, whose knee-fluid problem now has been traced to a Baker’s cyst, drained yesterday? With the coaches gushing over rookie defensive ends Brandon Graham and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, could high-profile free-agent signee Darryl Tapp be in danger of not making the team?
Fokou began camp as the starting strongside linebacker, but after the first day of live hitting, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott stuck Akeem Jordan in that spot. McDermott clearly is pleased with how Jordan is playing. Fokou, meanwhile, found himself shuffled to the bottom of the defensive end rotation, trying to learn how to play with his hand down for the first time in his career. Lately he is splitting time between d-end and linebacker.
Fokou is still the quick, aggressive young player the coaching staff liked so well last season, when he was a seventh-round rookie from Maryland, the guy they stuck with through a bunch of special-teams penalties, usually written off to his fierce, high-motor style. But now the coaches have other quick, aggressive young guys to work with.
“I have no idea,” Fokou said this week, when asked whether he knows where he stands. “It’s been a shaky couple of weeks, moving around from SAM to d-end to ‘joker’ [a standup pass rusher] and everything, but you just show up every day and keep doing what you’re doing. That’s how I look at it. I’m still focusing on the strongside linebacker position, and at the same time, I think they’re trying to find other ways I can help the team. The more you can do, the better . . . I like to look at it positively, but you don’t know where their mind is, what the decision’s going to be . . . keep working hard, playing hard, make them make a decision at the end. I’m in the blind, just like you guys.”
Fokou said something many players in his position have said over the years – that it does him no good to sit around looking at the roster, counting this many d-ends and this many linebackers, parsing who has to go for him to stay.
“You do that and your focus goes away,” he said. “You’ve just got to focus on what you’re here for. We’re young and very talented. We have a very deep camp. It’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out.”
Gaither is in the same linebacker crunch, though he isn’t being loaned out to the defensive line. He is wondering at idle moments whether he might find himself starting the season in another uniform, one way or another.”
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