Eagles defense working harder to get better

Nate Allen, left, looks to make a stop on the Giants’ Ahmad Bradshaw. Allen is starting at safety this weekend.

Coaches go through a lot of sleepless days and nights in the National Football League. When your unit isn’t living up to expectations, well, better fuel up on B vitamins.

The Eagles were supposed to be vastly improved on defense, especially in the secondary, after signing all-world cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. Instead, they are tied for the league lead in passing touchdowns allowed with eight.

It’s up to rookie defensive coordinator Juan Castillo to pick up the pieces and right the ship.
“There’s nobody in that room who wants to lose. It hurts,” Castillo sid Thursday. “So what do you do about it? You work harder, man, you stay up longer, you fight, you compete, and then you look forward to Sunday so you can get that W. That’s what you do.”

You also make some lineup adjustments. The Eagles have benched rookie Casey Matthews in favor of Brian Rolle. The starting linebackers for Sunday are Rolle (weakside), Moise Fokou (strongside) and Jamar Chaney (middle).

“The key is for them to make plays when they’re in there and hit the gaps that they’re responsible for,” Castillo said. “Then everything will take care  of itself.”

“We have to get our heads back in it,” Rolle said. “We tell each other every day that nobody’s going to give us anything.”

Castillo is also experimenting in the secondary, where he promoted safety Nate Allen over Kurt Coleman. Allen, who started 13 games last season, will start alongside Jarrad Page. Even with the constant turnstile, the coach doesn’t see any reason to think the defense can’t gel.

“It’s the same scheme, and the backups get reps too, during practice, so no it should not be,” he said.

Maclin hopes to play

Mike Vick’s playing, but the status of one of his favorite targets is uncertain.

Jeremy Maclin missed Wednesday’s practice and was a limited participant Thursday. Still, the Eagles wide receiver expects to play Sunday.

“Things are looking good for me,” Maclin told reporters.

Maclin suffered a hamstring injury in last Sunday’s loss to the Giants. He has 19 catches for 260 yards and two touchdowns.


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