Strong Start for Eagles’ Much-Hyped Defensive Line
Trent Cole, Jason Babin and the rest of the Eagles' defensive front wanted a strong preseason debut to validate the growing sentiment that theirs is perhaps the best unit in the league.
Seven sacks in the first preseason game wasn't a bad start – even if Cole and Babin, two of the best sack artists in the game, weren't even on the field to add to the total.
Steelers quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwhich and Josh Johnson each hit the turf multiple times. Defensive end Philip Hunt, who is vying for a spot on the 53-man roster registered two sacks, while former first-round pick Brandon Graham added a sack and two tackles for a loss.
That gave the Eagles seven sacks for a loss of 57 total yards.
“I thought we were playing on the other side of the ball," Eagles head coach Andy Reid explained after the win. "There are times when you have to react to the screens and the draws and get off the blocks, and we can do that a little bit better. But there were just some good things in there by the young players. There were a variety of them on both sides of the ball. The guys up front were coming off [the ball] and doing a nice job of that. It looked like everybody got plenty of reps too, so we should have good film on them and we should be able to evaluate them.”
It was good to see Graham, the Eagles' 2010 first round selection, had one as well. Graham came into camp healthy this season and in much better shape after suffering from a torn ACL in 2010.
"The sky is the limit for anybody on this team because everybody looks good," said Graham. "We’ll see on film what we need to correct, but I feel like overall we got the job done."
It was a good start for a defensive front that has received plenty of attention following a season of breakout performances. Babin led the league with 18 sacks and was a Pro Bowl starter, while Cole had 11 sacsk and is regarded as one of the best ends in the league. Add in the steady Cullen Jenkins, Graham, Darryl Tapp and first-round pick Flectcher Cox and second round pick Vinny Curry and the Eagles could be chasing QB's around all season.
“I love it," said Cole. "I love watching when the defensive line is eating like that. It is so fun to watch. [I am] just happy for some of the guys who are trying to make their way and trying to make this team.”