Tag:Asante Samuel
Posted on: February 18, 2012 10:08 pm
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Eagles could be open to trading Asante Samuel

Samuel's future in Philly remains uncertain. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

The Eagles were the NFL's most disappointing team last season and with many of the same faces returning in 2012, expectations will remain high. There were various reasons for Philly's 8-8 record -- injuries at quarterback, inconsistencies at wide receiver and a defense that looked absolutely lost an incapable of tackling for the first two-thirds of the season.

Despite missing the playoffs, the Eagles ended the year with four straight wins and the defense allowed an average of 11.5 points per game over that time. And if Asante Samuel returns to join Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at cornerback the defense -- and the secondary, in particular -- should be even better.

But there's no guarantee Samuel will be in Philly when training camps open in late July. In fact, he could be traded this spring.

“Whenever you have a surplus at a particular position there are talks around the league, people call and your phone does ring,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said (via the Wilmington News Journal), “and that’s happened in the past couple years by our quarterback situation.”

Samuel was mentioned in trade talks during the season and let's just say it didn't go over well.

"I've been nothing but what they expected me to be when they brought me there," Samuel said during the team's bye week in late October. "You know, 22, 23 interceptions over my years. Broke playoff records. So, definitely, it doesn't sit well with me. And obviously they don't want me there, so life goes on. So we'll see where I'll be at, ya know?"

Head coach Andy Reid addressed Samuel's comments a few days later.

“You have to understand everybody calls everybody,” he said. “We’re sitting here with a few good corners. So people call. But (shopping Samuel) wasn't the case. Asante and I talk. So listen, I’m not worried about that at all. He loves to play the game. And we’re going to move forward. I don’t have any comments past this. And I know he doesn’t. So, we’re moving on here.”

Samuel said at the time that he had Reid ware "good" and "that's all that matters," before adding, "A couple people upstairs might not want me, but who cares. They probably never played football. It's a business, they run it like a business, so they're going to do what they need to do. So they're upstairs playing with a lot of money, playing a little fantasy football, so they’re doing their thing."

On Thursday, Roseman wouldn't speak specifically about Samuel but it sure sounded like he'd be willing to trade him if the right deal came along.

“We’re always open to phone calls and to seeing if something works,” he said, “and really if there are win-win situations for particular teams and particular players, we’ll look at that and make a decision kind of in a vacuum.”

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Posted on: November 10, 2011 4:25 pm
 

Eagles still have faith in Rodgers-Cromartie

D. Rodgers-Cromartie has struggled this year, like here against E. Bennett (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Of the three big-name cornerbacks employed by the Eagles, the biggest disappointment has to be Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel have made mistakes for a team that’s been the most underachieving in the NFL this year, but they’ve also had a few good moments.

Rodgers-Cromartie, on the other hand, has struggled, and when he’s allowing his receivers to catch balls in his coverage, he’s also not tackling all that well (and, in some cases, making little effort to do so).

So, what’s going on with him?

"We know in time, DRC will be the best nickel guy there is, because he has that kind of ability," said defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, via the Philadelphia Daily News. "With Dominique, he's such a talented player, good kid, hard worker ... That nickel position is a tough position because the receiver has a two-way go. Our goal is that Dominque has that kind of ability to be a special guy in there. We knew it was going to take a little bit of time, 'cause it's something tough for him to do to get in there.”

But yeah, he hasn’t been very good this year, has he?

No, as Pro Football Focus wrote following the Eagles loss to the Bears: “He was a step behind on every almost every target, allowing three of four passes to be complete for 56 yards. We agree with him that’s he a better player than his play would suggest right now, because right now, his play stinks.”

The silver lining? The player for whom Rodgers-Cromartie was traded, Kevin Kolb, isn’t faring much better in Arizona these days, and it looks like he’ll miss another game with turf toe. Another look at the positive side? At least, Rodgers-Cromartie is showing passion – even if it is on the sideline.

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Posted on: November 7, 2011 9:23 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2011 9:45 pm
 

Samuel to the locker room; Nate Allen is out

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel has returned to the Philadelphia locker room as the first quarter of the Bears game expired after he got hit in the groin on a play that occurred late in the opening period.

Jay Cutler has not had many problems so far with Philadelphia’s secondary, completing 6 of 10 passes for 59 yards and a touchdown with a passer rating of 110.0, and Samuel’s absence, if it’s an extended one, won’t help matters. Bears running back Matt Forte also is off to a fast start with nine carries for 52 yards.

Samuel’s absence isn’t the only hole in Philadelphia’s defense. Nate Allen, the starting strong safety, is out for the game after suffering a first-quarter concussion.

The official injury is being called a groin laceration (!), and he should return to the game.

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Posted on: October 26, 2011 5:51 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 7:18 pm
 

Samuel: front office 'playing fantasy football'

Samuel says things are good with Reid, but the front office is playing fantasy football. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Eagles were busy little beavers during free agency, signing players and making trades like they were in Madden franchise mode. It led to Vince Young's unfortunate Dream Team comparison, followed by five weeks of mostly dreadful football. Philly beat Washington in Week 6, and after their bye, they're looking to improve on their 2-4 record.

That'll require more consistency, especially from the defense, which on paper should be one of the best units in the league (instead, through the first six games, they looked incapable of tackling). Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was the big offseason acquisition, and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie came over in the trade that sent Kevin Kolb to Arizona. Those additions to the secondary made incumbent Asante Samuel expendable and the Eagles reportedly told the rest of the league that he was available.

This did not go over well with Samuel.

"I've been nothing but what they expected me to be when they brought me there," Samuel told ESPN 950-AM in Philadelphia last Saturday during the team's bye week. "You know, 22, 23 interceptions over my years. Broke playoff records. So, definitely, it doesn't sit well with me. And obviously they don't want me there, so life goes on. So we'll see where I'll be at, ya know?"

On Wednesday, head coach Andy Reid addressed Samuel's comments.

“You have to understand everybody calls everybody,” he said. “We’re sitting here with a few good corners. So people call. But (shopping Samuel) wasn't the case.

"Asante and I talk. So listen, I’m not worried about that at all. He loves to play the game. And we’re going to move forward. I don’t have any comments past this. And I know he doesn’t. So, we’re moving on here.”

As it turns out, Samuel isn't quite done talking.

"Me and Andy (are) good. That’s all that matters," Samuel said after Wednesday's practice.

Innocuous enough ... and then he was asked if he feels wanted in Philadelphia.

"By Andy. A couple people upstairs might not want me, but who cares. They probably never played football," he said. "It's a business, they run it like a business, so they're going to do what they need to do. So they're upstairs playing with a lot of money, playing a little fantasy football, so they’re doing their thing."

When Samuel was asked if the "fantasy football" reference was directed at team president Joe Banner and GM Howie Roseman.

"Do they fit the comment I made?" Samuel responded. A reporter said they seemed to. "Then maybe so," he added.

"As long as I'm here, as long as I get paid each and every Tuesday, I'm going to go out and do my job to the best of my ability, each and every Sunday. I play for the fans and I play for my teammates, that’s what it’s all about."

Samuel continued: "Everyone has other issues, contract issues, and I deal with them accordingly. That's how I always do."

Reid, through the team, issued a statement Wednesday evening.

“I am aware of how Asante felt and we have since talked," he said. "We both left with a positive feeling going forward. As I have said previously, when we acquired Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha, we had received numerous calls on the availability of our cornerbacks. After discussing significant trade offers with other teams, we decided to keep all three cornerbacks on our team. Asante is a valuable member of our team and we appreciate all that he brings to this organization. As far as my relationship with Howie and Joe, I have a great deal of respect for both of them and I know we are all on the same page.”

If nothing else, at least nobody got gut-punched.


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Posted on: October 12, 2011 4:16 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 9:43 am
 

Film Room: Redskins vs. Eagles preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



What is wrong with the Philadelphia Eagles? Theories about chemistry, the pressure of high expectations, focus, character and, everybody’s favorite, the “It Factor” make for great talk show palaver. But they lack substance. Fortunately, there are cameras in the sky that can answer Football America’s current favorite question. Heading into a matchup against their division rival Washington Redskins, here’s what the film says is wrong with this nightmare of a Dream Team.


1. Offensive Line
You already know that Philly’s offensive line is young, incongruent and, as of late, banged up. That’s all true. And, perhaps a little bit surprising. Youth is youth, nothing you can do about that. But with new offensive line coach Howard Mudd installing his straightforward and famously teachable blocking techniques, you’d figure things would click up front a little quicker than they have (or have not).

Under previous O-line coach Juan Castillo, there were five to six different blocking techniques that Eagles linemen had to correctly choose from on any given play. It’s not easy to be fundamentally sound when you first have to think about which fundamentals to use. Mudd changed that. He teaches only one technique that has built-in variations depending on the situation.

So far, many situations have been difficult for the Eagles line to handle. That’s in part due to youth (rookie center Jason Kelce had a costly blitz-pickup gaffe against the Bills, and right guard Danny Watkins initially failed to hold onto his starting job) and in part due to injuries (with Winston Justice on the shelf, Todd Herremans has played at the unfamiliar right tackle position, which has left a void at Herremans’ left guard spot; at left tackle, big but awkward King Dunlap has been filling in for injured Pro Bowler Jason Peters).
 
Though it hasn’t been smooth sailing off the dock, this Eagles’ line is not as atrocious as people think. It’s an athletic group that fits the system well and should improve. Of course, people may not notice the improvements given that the man this unit blocks for always has, and always will, make his linemen look bad.

2. Vick and his line
As Mudd explains so eloquently, offensive linemen are the only athletes in all of sports that play with their backs constantly to the ball. Linemen protect the man holding the ball, but they can’t see the man holding the ball. Because of that, their positioning and execution are built on trust and timing.
Michael Vick’s sandlot nature obliterates that timing.

This isn’t just about Eagles blockers not knowing where Vick is when he’s scrambling around (though that’s part of it); it’s about Vick not having a feel for timing his drop-backs. Quarterbacks take three-step drops when receivers run short routes, five step drops on intermediate routes and seven-or nine-step drops on long routes. Simply taking the steps isn’t enough – you have to synchronize them with the timing of the routes and with the timing of the pass protection concepts.

Vick has a poor sense of this timing. It’s part of his collection of flawed fundamentals. Often, he makes up for his flaws with insanely athletic plays. But in the process, life is always difficult for his blockers.

3. Defensive Wide-9 Technique
People are starting to grumble about new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo’s scheme – and rightfully so. It’s a Wide-9, which is a system built around generating a pass-rush with your front four. The defensive ends align in 9-technique positions, which means they’re outside the tight ends. This puts the defensive ends in space and allows them to be sprinters out of the box. It’s ideal for guys like Trent Cole and Jason Babin, both of whom are having productive years rushing the passer.

The problem is this system puts a considerable strain on a linebacking unit. As Ron Jaworski pointed out in the Lions-Bears Monday Night game, with the ends aligning so far wide, offenses run to the gaping holes inside. This is what the defense is designed to do. The Wide-9 aims to shrink the field by steering all the action inside. But this demands physical, stout linebackers who can take on blocks and play downhill.

The Eagles simply don’t have any. Exacerbating matters is the fact that their miscast linebackers are also inexperienced. Jamar Chaney is a sophomore seventh-round pick who has shuffled from one position to another. Brian Rolle is a sixth-round rookie playing only because he makes fewer mental errors than fourth-round rookie Casey Matthews.

Understandably, Juan Castillo is taking a lot of heat for the defense’s struggles. Only those within the Eagles organization truly know what kind of defensive coach he is. But you don’t have to be inside the organization to see that the system Castillo signed up to coordinate is not right for this team.

4. The Vaunted Secondary
Imagine buying a 65-inch plasma TV, but instead of watching Blue Rays or DVDs on it, you watch video cassettes. That’s sort of what the Eagles are doing with Nnamdi Asomugha. The ex-Raider was worth $25 million guaranteed because he’s the best outside press-man cover artist not named Darrelle Revis. But Asomugha has not been a press-corner in Philadelphia.

Greg Cosell, the executive producer of the NFL Matchup Show and one of the most respected analysts in the country, points out that Asomugha played outside press-man only 40 percent of the snaps through the first four weeks. The rest of the time he was in off-coverage, traditional zone or lined up over the slot (where he’s never regularly operated before). Consequently, Asomugha has been uncomfortable.
 
There are problems on the other side, as well. Asante Samuel is a classic off-coverage corner who needs to be able to see both the receiver and quarterback in order to be effective. Cosell adds that Samuel is also suited for a blitz-oriented scheme, where the quarterback is compelled to throw quickly, thus making routes easier to jump. In this Wide-9 scheme, Samuel has often had to play bump-and-run coverage, which he doesn’t have the physicality to do.

The Eagles may be sorting this snafu out. A few times against the Bills, they used Asomugha in man-to-man while everyone else played zone. But even if the corners are all utilized to their natural talents, there remains concern about the safeties.

Cosell, who can speak at length about the intricacies of Wide-9 run defense concepts, says a major issue has been Jarrad Page’s failures in run defense. Page was benched in the middle of the fourth quarter last week after several missed tackles.

5. The Redskins Matchup
With their bye, Washington has had an extra week to rest up and study Philadelphia’s myriad problems. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett should be licking his chops. The Redskins run one of the most aggressive (and effective) blitz schemes in the league. Outside ‘backers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan can feast on the Eagles offensive tackles, plus they have the athleticism to plausibly keep Vick in the pocket.

If Orakpo and Kerrigan are told to cut loose, don’t be surprised if strong safety LaRon Landry serves as a spy on Vick. Of course, let’s not get carried away with thinking these matchups spell doom for the Eagles. After all, Philly’s offense hung 52 points on Washington’s defense in Week 10 last year. (Philly’s D added seven more.)

On the other side of the ball, the Redskins’ zone-blocking scheme does not create the type of pounding downhill run game that’s ideal for attacking this Eagles defense.

But it does create passing lanes for tight ends. With the Eagles corners stifling the mediocre Redskins wideouts, don’t be surprised if Rex Grossman throws 15-20 balls to Chris Cooley and Fred Davis. It’s a good place to attack given that the Eagles linebackers have also struggled in coverage.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 6 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: September 29, 2011 1:23 pm
 

Why is Nnamdi Asomugha struggling?

N. Asomugha has found himself struggling this season (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Nnamdi Asomugha is struggling. He certainly hasn’t been great in coverage (particularly for a guy who signed a humongous five-year, $60 million deal this offseason), and his tackling has suffered.

But he’s also struggling with his adjustment to a new time zone and with living in a different part of the country, and you have to wonder if that’s the reason Asomugha is missing tackles and allowing more receivers to beat him for catches? Could be.

"Here, things aren't as familiar," Asomugha said, via CSN Bay Area. "The biggest reason is because when I got here, we went straight into football. I didn't get here in March, so I didn't have months to get acclimated. It's the end of September and I'm still getting acclimated to the area and just using my down time to familiarize myself with the East Coast and with football out here."

CSN Philly
has another explanation. 1) Asomugha is playing in a completely new defense, which features more zone coverage than Asomugha’s comfort zone of man to man, and it takes some time for him to adjust, particularly with the lockout shortening the offseason; 2) Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo hasn’t figured out how to use Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in an effective manner.

But some of the blame has to fall on Asomugha. Like, for instance, when he was badly beaten by Giants receiver Victor Cruz last Sunday.

“You are paying (Asomugha) millions of dollars to make this play,” NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger told CSN Philly. “The Eagles have bracket coverage with the safety on the other side, but it is Nnamdi’s play.

“He should be looking for the ball but he’s not. Cruz is looking for the ball. His head is up, his eyes are up. Nnamdi should see that and realize, ‘The ball’s in the air,’ but he doesn’t react fast enough.

“By the time he looks up, Cruz has position on him and is going for the ball. But still there is no way Nnamdi should let him catch it. You’ve got to strip it, knock it out of his hands. He lets (Cruz) take it away. It’s a nice play (by Cruz) but come on. This is Nnamdi Asomugha.”

Yes, but it’s a Nnamdi Asomugha who clearly is out of sorts in his new location and in his new defense.

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Posted on: September 29, 2011 11:57 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 11:58 am
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Most underrated

D. McFadden is one of the league's most underrated players (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

You know all the big-name players, even if they’re past their prime. Guys who once were great and impactful and who were rated exactly as their athleticism required. Now, though, some of those players have begun their descent into the final phases of their career, but fans, remembering their past exploits, still think of them as high-end performers on the field.

Now, they’re making way for players you’ve probably heard of but can’t place. Players who you’ve seen but can’t remember on which team they reside.Players who are overshadowed and under the radar. The players who won’t be considered underrated for much longer.

In this week’s Top Ten with a Twist, we feature the best players who are not as well known as they should be. You can call them underrated and call them under the radar, but their teams and their teammates know how important they are. They are, in fact, some of the best players in the league who aren’t necessarily considered the best players in the league.

10. Sean Lee: He won’t be a name only hardcore fans recognize for much longer. He was just named NFC defensive player of the month after a sensational start to the season (31 tackles, two interceptions, and two fumble recoveries). Lee had knocked long-time starting linebacker Keith Brooking out of the lineup, and with the way he’s playing, you can certainly see why. He has been scary this year.

9. Hakeem Nicks: Considering wide receiver is one of the most glamorous positions in the sport, it’s tough to find a guy who you could call underrated -- conversely, there’s no shortage of players we could consider overrated at this position. But Nicks is one of those guys who doesn’t get the national attention (even though he plays in New York!) of a Calvin Johnson, an Andre Johnson or a DeSean Jackson. And while Nicks might not quite be on the same level as those receivers, he’s close. His 79 catches, 1,052 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2010 is a testament to that.

8. Ryan Kalil: You might have been shocked when the Panthers gave him a six-year, $49 million ($28 million guaranteed) deal before this season to make him the highest-paid center in the game, but those around the league know his value. He’s versatile in pass protection and run-blocking, and he doesn’t get called for holding penalties. Is he the best center in the league? Probably not as long as Nick Mangold is playing, but Kalil is still one of the top guys out there.

7. Vince Wilfork: He gets plenty of attention -- especially when he’s picking off passes and strolling his way back up the field -- but when compared to defensive tackles like Haloti Ngata, Ndamukong Suh or (gasp!) Albert Haynesworth, Wilfork doesn’t get the admiration he deserves. Despite his size -- he very well could be playing in the 400-pound range -- he’s one of the most athletic big men you’ll see. He’s one of the best run-stoppers around, and he’s the anchor of the Patriots defense. You know him, but he still hasn’t made his way to superstar status.



6. Darren Sproles: It was thought that the new kickoff rules would hinder Sproles, and that was probably one of the reasons the Chargers didn’t re-sign him in the offseason. But Sproles has continued to prove his wealth, settling into the Saints backfield, where he’s shown he can still rush (7.4 yards per carry), catch the ball (21 receptions, second-best among running backs) and score (he’s recorded a touchdown in all three games). He’s like a Reggie Bush who actually is effective for the Saints. Oh, and he can still return kicks (sixth in the league among those who have at least five chances) and return punts (second in the league).

5. Tramon Williams: Although he helped the Packers to a Super Bowl, Williams isn’t mentioned in the same breath as the Eagles cornerback trio (Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) or the Jets duo (Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie). Plus, he plays in the shadow of Charles Woodson, who is still one of the best cornerbacks in the league after 14 seasons. But Williams has shown why he’s a top-10 cornerback. He’s not avoided by other team’s quarterbacks quite as much as Asomugha and Revis -- that’s a byproduct of playing with Woodson -- but he’s shown that when his receiver is targeted, Williams is one of the better cover corners in the league.

4. Rob Gronkowski: Who are the best tight ends in the league? Antonio Gates? That’s true if he’s healthy. Tony Gonzalez? That’s true if this was five years ago. Jason Witten? Yes, he probably is the top tight end out there. But you know who’s really close to him? That’s Gronkowski -- who, in his second season in the league, is one big reason the Patriots offense has been so dominant this season. He was decent as a rookie last season, but he’s exploded for five touchdowns already this year, and with Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in the lineup in New England, that is a tough, tough matchup for the opposing teams’ linebackers.

3. Brandon Pettigrew: Last Sunday was the perfect example of why Pettigrew can make a Lions fan’s mouth water. He played through a shoulder injury, yet he managed to catch 11 passes for 112 yards in Detroit’s huge comeback victory against the Vikings. He’s probably not on the same level as Witten or Gronkowski, and yes, he drops the easy passes way too much (even if he also makes the spectacular catches). But in his third season in the league, he shows real potential to be a top-five tight end.

2. Trent Cole: He’s always good for between 55-80 tackles a year. He’s always good for between eight and 13 sacks. He’s almost always assured to be making life difficult for whichever offensive tackle who is charged with slowing his momentum. Cole might be the best player many NFL fans don’t know anything about. But this year, he’s off to a hot start in Philadelphia with three sacks. He’s a monster, and even if you haven’t heard his name very much, you can be sure the league’s offensive linemen have.

1. Darren McFadden: Along with Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson, McFadden might be a top-three running back in this league. But since he plays in the black hole of Oakland, he wasn’t discussed as much as those who have lesser talent. That’s changing this year with the Raiders off to a 2-1 start and McFadden performing like the best back in the league. In 2010, McFadden gained 1,664 yards from scrimmage, and through three games this season, he’s rushed for 393 yards and three touchdowns while catching 11 passes for 84 yards and another score. If he keeps playing like that, he won’t belong on this list next year. Because everybody is going to know about him.

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Posted on: August 26, 2011 11:43 pm
 

Are the Dolphins CBs better than Revis/Cromartie?

SmithPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Earlier this week, Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis had something interesting to say about his status in the league. After leading the team with 12 passes defended last year, Davis was ready to declare that he and Sean Smith are the top cornerback unit in the NFL.

"I'm going to go out on a limb and say we're the best tandem in the league," Davis told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Wait, wait, wait. You can’t possibly mean that Davis and Smith are better than the Jets combo of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, right? After all, as the paper points out, Revis and Cromartie “have a combined 32 interceptions and four Pro Bowl berths to Davis' and Smith's five and none respectively.” Surely, Davis didn’t mean he and Smith are more productive than Revis and Cromartie. But no, Davis wouldn’t back down from his theory.

"You name them all and I'm putting it out there," he said.

When told about that hypothesis, Revis pointed to proof that, in his mind, made clear that Davis was incorrect.

"He's got to play a couple more years before he's saying all that," Revis said, via the New York Post. "They're a good tandem but they have a lot of work to do. … It really don't matter because the film don't lie. The film don't lie. You can say what you want to say. You can say the sky is red, but it ain't red. That's just what it is. We know how we play and we know what we do on that field not just as a corner tandem but as a secondary. We play great football."

And of course, Revis is probably right, particularly since Smith (pictured above) lost his starting job for a time last year to Jason Allen. But this season might provide a new challenger to Revis and Cromartie as the top tandem in the league. And it’s not Smith and Davis. Nope, it’s the Eagles trio of Asante Samuel, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha. That would be my answer if somebody asked me about the best cornerback unit in the league.

Obviously, it’s not time yet for Smith and Davis to acquire that title, but, as we learned last year, Smith and Davis are usually a little late to the party anyway.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com