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Eagles prepare for the Dallas blitz

October 28, 2011

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PHILADELPHIA—Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, as his last name suggests, is going to blitz the opposing offense.

Just as his father, Buddy, did for years as a coordinator and as a head coach, and just as his brother, Rex, did and does as a coordinator and head coach, Rob sends as many as five and six defenders at a time after the quarterback.

"Yeah, he will blitz," Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "He'll move people around. He'll move people over in unusual ways which are sort of uncommon. You see some of it from other teams, but he does it a little bit more."

The Eagles (2-4) will play host to the Cowboys (3-3) on Sunday night.

Linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who is second in the league with eight sacks, is the player Ryan will move the most in search of the biggest mismatch on the Eagles' line.

If there is a bright spot for the Eagles, it's that left tackle Jason Peters, who missed the team's last two games with a hamstring injury, practiced all week and will be back in the lineup.

Peters' return gives the Eagles the offensive line it hoped for with first-round pick Danny Watkins and Evan Mathis at the guard spots, rookie Jason Kelce at center and veteran Todd Herremans, who may see a lot of Ware, at right tackle.

"We've made some big moves and we've had some guys playing at new positions," Mornhinweg said. "The key is continuity and trying to get the offensive line to get more reps together. That's going to be important in the long run."

In the short term, the Eagles are going to have to protect quarterback Michael Vick from the blitzes Ryan is going to throw at them in order to avoid falling to 2-5 on the season and losing for the sixth straight time at home, dating back to last season.

Through the first six games -- and for that matter going back to the end of last season -- the blitz has caused problems for Vick. Most of his 11 turnovers this year have come against the opponents' blitz package.

"We have a pretty good feel of what they want to do," Vick said of the Cowboys. "We just have to be ready for it."

In 13 games against the Eagles in his career, Ware has 11 1/2 sacks, including three last season and two in the Cowboys 2009 playoff win.

"They move him inside, outside, everywhere," Eagles coach Andy Reid said of Ware. "He's one of the best in the business. He's a tremendous athlete, a tremendous football player. It's going to be a challenge for our offensive line."

Especially now that he has Ryan coaching him.

"There are certain things they do similar," Reid said of Ryan's defense compared to the one Wade Phillips ran in Dallas. "Obviously (Ryan's) flavor is put on that defense. He uses a lot of different personnel groups and moves people around and blitzes, fire zones, he's go the whole works there. It's an aggressive package."

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NOTES: Everyone on the 53-man roster practice yesterday, making the Eagles as healthy as they have been all season. ... Reid said a decision has not been made yet on 2010 first-round draft pick Brandon Graham, who is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list this week. "We'll talk about that (Saturday) and see how it goes," Reid said. The team does not have to make a decision for two more weeks. Then they will have to activate Graham, put him on injured reserve or release him.

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