As we count down the days to training camp, Around the League will examine one player from every team set for a breakout campaign in 2012. We've wrapped up the AFC. Now to the NFC, and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Mychal Kendricks leads LB revival in Philly
Acquiring middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans from the Houston Texans was arguably Philadelphia's strongest move of the offseason. In Ryans, the Eagles have an intelligent and respected leader on the field. This alone could hasten the development of second-round pick Mychal Kendricks out of Cal.
Last year's group of linebackers played timid. Kendricks is the opposite, a hard-hitting defender able line up at either outside spot. We expect the rookie to see plenty of playing time on the strong side.
"I just play ball, man. That's just me," Kendricks told KYW-TV after the draft. "You're not going to want a guy who says 'I'm going to do my best and if he beats me he beats me.' Nah, man, you've got to be the best. You've got to go out there and take it. That's what I do. That's what I go out on the field and try to do."
A little cocky for a rookie? Maybe. But the edginess is welcomed after what we saw last season.
By now, every living creature knows Juan Castillo tread a rocky road as a first-year defensive coordinator.
The line played well, but couldn't make up for streaks of confusion in an otherwise talented secondary. The linebackers were a mess.
We expect Kendricks -- along with Ryans -- to tell a different story this season.