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When McDermott can have fun

Sean McDermott's goal on defense is to get the opponent in passing situations on third down. That's when he can try to make things happen and pressure the quarterback.

During last month's media chalk talk event at the Novacare complex, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott talked about getting to good third-down situations.

Third down, McDermott explained, is when he can have fun. It's when he can bring in different personnel packages. It's when, quite simply, he can have his guys focus on getting after the quarterback.

As we've dissected several times here, McDermott used a rotation of nine or 10 guys along the defensive line last season. That might be the case again this year, or it might not be. But the names will be different.

Today, we caught a glimpse of a couple different things McDermott might try. On one set of downs, the defensive line consisted of Brandon Graham, Darryl Tapp, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and Trent Cole. Tapp and Te'o-Nesheim have been used pretty consistently inside in passing situations during the last couple of weeks. But in this case, they were standing up. As was Graham. Cole was the only player with his hand on the ground.

Another time, when the second team came in, it was Trevor Laws rushing from the edge.

Nothing more than McDermott trying different things as he attempts to figure out how to best use his personnel.

More practice observations:

* I've seen this written in a few other places, and I agree. Hank Baskett had a great practice. In fact, he's had two good days in a row and just looks a lot better overall than last week.

* Some of you have asked how Michael Vick looks. And it's a tough question. On one throw, he looks amazing, like a world-class quarterback. On the next throw, you wonder where he's aiming.

Kevin Kolb and Brent Celek seem to connect at least once a day down the seam in the middle of the field. But today, Moise Fokou did a nice job in coverage to break up their attempt.

* Deja vu with Stewart Bradley out and Joe Mays getting first-team reps at middle linebacker. We saw this last year at Lehigh.

* Saw Celek line up out wide, Cornelius Ingram line up in the slot and Mike Bell line up out wide in different formations. I've said it before, but I'm getting increasingly curious to see how Ingram fits in.

* Riley Cooper got some reps with the first team as Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson did not practice.

* I caught up with Jason Avant after practice. I'll provide his comments in full detail tomorrow, but here is the video report.

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