You've heard plenty this week and this season about the New York Giants' three-headed monster at running back.

Earth (Brandon Jacobs), Wind (Derrick Ward) and Fire (Ahmad Bradshaw) have been the NFL's most destructive ground trio this season, a fact the Eagles discovered the hard way last month in a loss at Lincoln Financial Field.

You probably haven't heard as much about the Eagles' defensive-line rotation, which will attempt to slow New York's powerful ground attack when the teams meet for a second time this season tomorrow at Giants Stadium.

That's because defensive coordinator Jim Johnson's front four doesn't have a fancy nickname or a nasty reputation even though it has performed well this season. The Eagles have 39 sacks - the third most in the NFL and three more than the Giants - and 271/2 of them have come from defensive linemen.

Take away two poor performances, against the Giants and the Washington Redskins, and the rushing defense is allowing 69.9 yards per game, which is even better than Pittsburgh's top-ranked average of 71.2 yards.

If the Eagles' defensive line ever receives national recognition, a good nickname might be "Eight Is Enough," because that's how many players Johnson shuffles in and out on game day.

Pay attention to the rotation tomorrow and you'll see defensive ends Victor Abiamiri and Darren Howard playing defensive tackle on passing downs, replacing tackles Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley.

With more frequency in recent weeks, Chris Clemons has been replacing the starting left defensive end, Juqua Parker, on passing downs. You'll also see rookie defensive tackle Trevor Laws for at least a handful of plays on running downs.

End Trent Cole is the only defensive lineman who seems immune from the Johnson shuffle.

"I know when I come in I'm always super-fresh," said Howard, who leads the team with eight sacks although he's not a starter. "I'm sure the other guys feel the same. It's good against a team like the Giants when you're coming in after five or six plays and you know they have a fresh running back in the backfield."

Howard, who rarely came off the field during his days as a starting defensive end in New Orleans, said a rotation required a mental adjustment.

"It took a little getting used to, but I'm definitely not surprised anymore," Howard said. "That's the way it has been since I've been in the organization."

It's true that Johnson always wants to rotate his defensive linemen, but he's been able to do it more this season for two reasons: The players have remained healthy, and they have been productive.

"It's a little more this year because, sometimes in nickel situations, Mike Patterson was staying in the game," Howard said. "This year, that's not what's going on. He's playing first and second down, and then we have a whole new slew of guys coming in."

The rotation can be challenging, especially for someone such as Abiamiri, who is playing defensive tackle for the first time in his career. Abiamiri typically replaces Bunkley in passing situations.

"In my crash course that I've got with Darren, he basically told me to stay low because you're not as heavy or as big as those guards and centers," Abiamiri said. "You have to make sure you stay low and use your quickness and explosiveness to your advantage."

Howard said the challenge for him was getting into the flow of the game.

"If it's the second quarter and you're just getting into the game, the rush of everything isn't off," he said. "The offensive linemen are rolling, and you haven't busted a sweat yet. It's a little bit tough that way, but you adjust to it."

Despite the constant shuffle, there don't seem to be any bruised egos or malcontents in the locker room.

"With the athletes we have on the defensive line, you really can't blame [Johnson] for putting those guys in there, because we have a lot of guys who can do a lot of different things," Bunkley said.

"The D line here, we're like brothers," he added. "When one of us gets out there and has a chance to make plays and then you see a guy produce . . . you can't do anything but be happy."

Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.