To find the career path Victor Abiamiri wants to follow, all you have to do is look north to the swamps of Jersey.
That's where you'll find Abiamiri's former Notre Dame teammate Justin Tuck, who surprisingly emerged last season as a pass-rushing force for the New York Giants.
"I'm definitely looking forward to emulating that kind of success," the Eagles' second-year defensive end said Wednesday after getting more work in with the first-team defense at the NovaCare Complex.
Abiamiri, drafted in the second round in 2007, said he had talked to Tuck twice since his own mostly uneventful rookie season ended.
"Once before the Super Bowl and once afterward," he said. "He got married, got a new contract, and won the Super Bowl. He's had a pretty good 2008 so far."
Tuck's career took off in his third season as he registered 10 sacks in the regular season and two more during the Giants' stunning Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots. Before last season, he had one sack in his first two years with the Giants.
"The blueprint for him was to learn from the guys ahead of him," Abiamiri said. "He had [Michael] Strahan and [Osi] Umenyiora. He watched them, worked hard, and then just kind of blew up last year. I feel like that's going to happen to me."
The Eagles hope that Abiamiri's rise comes this season. Based on the way things have gone in the off-season camps, it appears he will get every chance to be an impact player.
"I said toward the end of last year that I thought he was coming around," defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said. "He's showing it this year in these camps. He's a different person. He plays with a lot of confidence and knows the defense. He's going to be on the field quite a bit."
Abiamiri, who dressed for just six games last season, said he could tell Johnson was expecting a lot more in 2008.
"No doubt about it," he said. "I'm ready to get out there and take advantage of this opportunity I've been given. The coaching staff is giving me reps with the ones and twos. One of the things that really helped me was the off-season program. I came in, and I feel like I made a lot of strides with my technique. It's still early, but I'm definitely looking forward to going through the rest of these minicamps and finishing up strong with a good taste in my mouth before training camp."
At 6-foot-4 and 267 pounds, Abiamiri is one of the Eagles' bigger defensive ends and similar in size to Tuck, who is 6-5 and 274 pounds.
"He's a physical guy," Johnson said. "He's the ideal type of defensive end. He doesn't get pushed around. You want a guy who can hold the point of attack but will also have some pass-rush ability."
It would not be surprising if Abiamiri replaced Juqua Parker as the starting left defensive end with free-agent addition Chris Clemons serving as the primary pass rusher on third down.
"I think he's an excellent first- and second-down run player," Johnson said. "I can see him a lot on first and second down and rotating some other guys and sometimes even playing tackle in the nickel. He's a versatile guy, no question about it."
Rushing from a tackle position is something that his friend Tuck excelled at with the Giants last season.
"The ways they used him really helped him," Abiamiri said. "They had him bumping up in the interior, and that team just always got the four best pass rushers on the field at one time. They made a lot of noise with those four pass rushers, and I can definitely see the same thing happening for us."
Of course, there is also the notion that the Eagles might try to add another pass rusher: Miami's Dancing With the Stars defensive end, Jason Taylor. A team source said that was unlikely but not out of the question.
"Honestly, I'm for anything to improve our football team, and I think that would be great," Abiamiri said. "We definitely have a bunch of talent on our defensive line, and we saw what that did for the Giants. When you have pass rusher after pass rusher, it breeds success."