Maybe the Eagles will be fine. After all, they did bring in a starting defensive tackle when they traded for Tim Jernigan last week.
Because of that trade, Beau Allen’s pec injury later in the week didn’t seem like such a big hit. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Allen will have surgery this week and could be back in September or October. It could still be a big loss.
Allen wasn’t a starter last year, but still started three games when Bennie Logan was out and ended up playing 40 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps because Jim Schwartz likes to rotate along the line.
While the Eagles are in much better shape because of the Jernigan trade, losing Allen will still hurt at a position where the Eagles don’t have a ton of depth. They have Fletcher Cox, Jernigan and then a lot of youth.
Here’s a look at the backup situation with Allen — at least briefly — on the shelf.
Destiny Vaeao, an undrafted lineman from Washington State last year, actually played a decent role with the team in 2016 (26 percent of defensive snaps). With Allen out, Vaeao becomes the top backup interior lineman.
Vaeao played in all 16 games in 2016 and had 19 total tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. The Eagles found some value when they picked him up after the 2016 draft.
But Vaeao wasn’t the only undrafted defensive tackle the Eagles scooped up last year. Aziz Shittu, from Stanford, joined the Eagles after going undrafted but didn’t make the 53-man roster. Instead, he was on the practice squad for the entire season. Shittu has some talent, but missed spring workouts because of the graduation rule at schools like Stanford that run on quarters systems. During that time, Vaeao passed him and didn’t give up his spot. Allen’s injury could be an opportunity for Vaeao.
The only other backup defensive tackle listed on the roster is Justin Hamilton, whom the Eagles signed to a futures deal after the 2016 season ended. Hamilton went undrafted in 2015 and has bounced around some in the league. He spent time with the Seahawks on their practice squad in 2015 and 2016.
Well … there is another defensive tackle on the team, but he isn’t a defensive tackle anymore. Taylor Hart, the former fifth-round pick in 2015, has switched from defense to offensive tackle this offseason. The team is looking forward to seeing him in that position and talking to CSNPhilly.com a few months ago, seemed really excited about the switch.
At times last season, Vinny Curry took snaps at DT to allow Cox to move outside. There’s a good chance the team does some more of that this year. And new defensive end Chris Long was moved around on the line of scrimmage by the Patriots last year, so he could probably do that in Philly.
The Eagles have eight picks in the draft later this month. And with a lack of depth at the position, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them pick up another interior defensive lineman.
Eagles 2017 preseason schedule released; kicking it off in Green Bay – Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia