Numbers game on Eagles defensive line

August, 10, 2012
8/10/12
2:24
PM ET
The guys at the Birds 24/7 blog are playing at 53-man roster projections these days, and after Thursday night's preseason opener it's worth asking how many of their excellent defensive linemen the Philadelphia Eagles are planning to take. Sheil Kapadia has them keeping 11, one of which is not Mike Patterson, whom he projects on the PUP list as he continues to recover from offseason brain surgery. Tim MacManus has them keeping 10, with Antonio Dixon the odd man out. But as Tim admits in his post, that seems less likely after Dixon was one of the starters Thursday night.

There are three more preseason games and weeks of practice still to go, and the Eagles will have time and a lot more basis for making these decisions. What's clear is that they are very strong and very deep on the defensive line. Assuming Jason Babin, Trent Cole and Cullen Jenkins all make it back from their various soft-tissue injuries in time for the regular season, first-round picks like Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox could find themselves coming off the bench. Andy Reid told me when I was at their camp last week that the plan is to rotate eight defensive linemen and "throw fastballs at the offensive line" by making sure the four they have out there at any given time are as fresh as possible. Thursday offered at least some evidence that the plan can work.

I'm intrigued by the idea Tim raises of trading Darryl Tapp and his $2.6 million salary. The Eagles are projecting themselves to be over next year's cap by roughly as much as they're under this year's, so a little extra room (you can roll it over from year to year) might not be a bad thing -- assuming Tapp is the odd man out or all else is equal.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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