It was a spirited scene when the defensive backs ran down to the one end of the field to join the linebackers for a screen drill. There was cornerback Asante Samuel and linebacker Stewart Bradley engaging in a chest bump; cornerback Joselio Hanson and linebacker Akeem Jordan leaped for a shoulder bump. Even safety Quintin Mikell got involved.
When Bob Kent said that on the Philadelphia Eagle's Bloghead I was reminded about one of the offseason's most important story-lines. With the departure of Brian Dawkins a huge leadership role needs to be filled, and I think the Eagles have the characters to do it.
There is a certain amount of respect every player has for Mikell. He came to the Eagle's as an Undrafted Free Agent, and has slowly worked his way up to a starter position. Originally playing a very large role on special teams, Mikell is now the starting Strong Safety opposite Quinten Demps/Sean Jones. Mikell has the respect of the locker room, the mentality, and the skills on the field to become a very effective defensive leader. I think that he is poised for a breakout season on and off the field.
The Middle Linebacker position is perfect for someone with leadership skills. Often they are receiving the calls via the headset (which Bradley does) and then they have to relay that information to the rest of the team. This automatically makes Bradley a leader because he leads the defense into a play. He is also a very strong defensive player, coming of a great season. He has been taking part in the Eagle's offseason conditioning program this year, so he has been with members of the team year round, and he has the charisma to be a leader. Just watch some tape of him during last years playoffs.
This should be the most obvious one. Let's start with Samuel's on field performance. He is the NFL's leader in post season interception leader, and he has the most INT's returned for TD's in league history. He plays big in big games. Then we see reports like this where Samuel is challenging his defense and McNabb. I'm not too worried about his lack of attendance at the last few OTAs, they are voluntary after all. Samuel will be a large part in this team's on and off the field success.
He's the leader of the defensive line. I don't think anything more needs to be said.
While Dawkins will be missed, and his pre-game antics are going to be tough to see in an orange and blue jersey, the Eagles are more than set with leaders on their defense.