Asomugha Will Have Versatile Role Again
Nnamdi Asomugha will again be used in a variety of roles on defense, lining up in the slot or against tight ends when matchups warrant.
When the Eagles signed four-time All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha last season, coaches were excited about the possibilities of using him in a different ways.
At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Asomugha could cover some of the league’s faster tight ends or line up in the slot to shift matchups. The idea had merit, but the execution didn’t go as well as the Birds hoped.
Now, Asomugha doesn’t want a season of struggles to go to waste.
“I’m good with it, I don’t want last year’s learning curve to be for nothing,” Asomugha said. “If we’re doing some of the same things then we’re better at them then that’s a good thing.”
Asomugha says this year he just has to get the feel of football back, rather than trying to learn different positions and coverages. Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo also made things simpler for 2012.
“He had cut down on a lot of the things that were complicated,” Asomugha said. “Playing different positions isn’t the thing that’s difficult. It’s just the plays that are within different positions and he cut that down.”
It will also help that the Eagles are better suited to the style of defense they want to play after the departure of Asante Samuel, a ball hawk who was more comfortable playing off of receivers.
Samuel, who was traded to the Falcons for a seventh round pick, stands just 5-foot-10. His replacement, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, is 6-foot-2.
“Especially when you want to be aggressive and press, you’d like for the corner to be a bigger guy,” Asomugha said of the Eagles scheme.
The Birds will likely press a lot more this season, as it plays to the strengths of Asomugha, Rodgers-Cromartie and whoever wins the battle between Joselio Hanson and Brandon Boykin as the slot corner.
Celek Leaves Thursday’s Practice With Mild Knee Sprain
Eagles tight end Brent Celek left the first practice of the year with veterans after a few plays and the team announced he has a mild right knee sprain. Celek underwent surgery in early January to repair a sports hernia and a torn labrum in his left hip.
Celek said after practice that he would be fine and walked to his car with only a slight limp.
The Eagles courted veteran tight end Visanthe Shiancoe before he signed with the Patriots and have been reported to have at least some level of interest in Jeremy Shockey, but he has not yet been worked out by Philadelphia.
Ryan Messick covers the Eagles for 97.3 ESPN FM. Follow him on Twitter.