Eagles Pre-Season Notebook Week 1 vs. Ravens: Casey Matthews

This off-season the Eagles revamped their defense by adding Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Chromartie, Cullen Jenkins, and Anthony Hargrove. Perhaps the most important player on the defense is fourth round pick out of Oregon, middle linebacker Casey Matthews.

Many eyes were glued to the heart of the Eagles defense and number 50, not because of his ridiculously long hair flowing from his helmet. Casey Matthews is charged with the tall order of quarterbacking the Eagles defense during his rookie season. There is no doubting his talent, or the weapons that he is working with along the defensive line. However, linebacker is clearly the position that the Eagles valued the least in terms of off-season spending and that has many wondering if this unit can hold up.

In his NFL debut Matthews played two series during which the Eagles allowed just three points and looked stout against the run, surrendering just 59 yards against one of the league’s best rushing offenses and tailback Ray Rice.

With the amount of talent in the secondary and along the defensive line the biggest key to the Eagles success on defense this year will be whether or not the linebackers are up to task. There is only three years experience combined between the three starters, but this group will be tested immediately against teams like St. Louis, The Giants and Cowboys right out of the shoot. Much of the coming of age process will depend on Matthews’ progression in the middle.

-Matt Lombardo

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