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Eagles can’t afford to lose these 10

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When Stewart Bradley tore his ACL on a wet Lincoln Financial Field during something called Flight Night, the Eagles defense took another unnecessary hit.

Coming in the aftermath of Brian Dawkins’ free agent departure and Jim Johnson’s death, the loss of Bradley took another leader away from a unit that was already without its heart and its brain.

How important was Bradley to the Eagles defense, or for that matter the overall team’s success?

Some will tell you it was akin to losing quarterback Donovan McNabb on the offensive side of the ball.

That might be taking it a little far, but unless Joe Mays makes a huge jump in a short amount of time, Bradley’s loss will be felt right from the start of the season.

Where does it rank in terms of the impact of a player being lost for the season? Here at philly2philly, we did a little research, mixed in some opinion, took into account all aspects of the loss and came up with a list of the top 10 players the team cannot afford to lose.

 

McNabb – Yes, it’s still the quarterback, as it would be with most teams. This offense, and the team, is still McNabb’s. Maybe now more than ever.

If he were to go down for the season, as he has in the past, the defense isn’t good enough to carry the team the way it did in 2002.

We also still don’t know nearly enough about Kevin Kolb to have confidence that he can run the team and win games.

Trent Cole – The Eagles have one true, legitimate pass rusher and it’s Cole. If he goes down, there won’t be enough blitzes called to get pressure on the quarterback.

As it is, with the mess on the left side of the defensive line – Victor Abiamiri’s injury and Juqua Parker’s stupidity – Cole is going to see all kinds of double teams, chips and anything else an offense can think of to neutralize him.

Brian Westbrook – If I didn’t like Shady McCoy so much and feel he’s going to be a premier back, I might have put Westbrook at the top of the list.

In the past, I have seen the Eagles win without McNabb. I have seen them win without Terrell Owens. I have seen them struggle without Westbrook. The bottom line, at least for now, is that when defenses game plan for the Eagles, the focus is still on No. 36.

Quintin Mikell – He really came into his own last year, in his first full year as a starter. Now he will have to go it without Dawkins behind him and Bradley in front of him.

The Eagles have little depth at safety now – the battle between Quintin Demps and Sean Jones at free safety doesn’t excite me – and if they were to lose Mikell it could be disastrous.

Jason Peters – The newly-acquired left tackle ranks this high for three reasons, the position he plays, the fact there is no real back-up, and the money he makes.

Andy Reid called Peters, “the best left tackle in football’’ when he made the trade to get him from Buffalo. Even if you have the best roster in the league, you can’t afford to lose one of the best at his position.

Bradley – He goes in at the sixth spot until we get to see Mays play.

Brent Celek – The tight end is so important to what the Eagles do offensively, that he has to make the list.

Throw in the fact that the team chose not to address the position in free agency and lost his rookie backup to another serious knee injury, and that’s another reason, Celek makes the top 10.

DeSean Jackson – From a talent standpoint he should be higher, but the Eagles do have depth at wide receiver.

Still he’s a game breaker with his speed. The play he made in the NFC Championship Game last year would have gone down as one of the top plays in Eagles history if the defense didn’t allow the Cardinals to go right back down the field and score.

Leonard Weaver – Finally, the team has a real fullback, the best they have ever had under Reid and maybe the best they have ever had, period.

You can’t lose him.

Asante Samuel – What stops him from being higher is the Eagles do have some depth at cornerback with Sheldon Brown, Joselio Hanson and Ellis Hobbs.

What gets him here, however, is that he is the defense’s best (and maybe only) playmaker.