Philadelphia, PA (UHND.com) – Next week a whole class of NFL rookies will begin reporting to their first training camps. One of them will be former Notre Dame defensive lineman Trevor Laws who will be reunited with fellow Notre Dame alum Victor Abiamiri in Philadelphia as a member of a very young and talented defensive front for the Eagles.
It surprised a lot of Eagles fans when they selected Laws in the second round after trading out of the first round for the second consecutive year because of the depth they have along the defensive line. Eagles fans, however, weren’t the only ones surprised. “I was definitely surprised to be selected by the Eagles,” said Laws. “I had no idea that they were even interested in me.”
In Philadelphia, Laws will be joining a core of young defensive tackles including starting duo Broderick Bunkley and Mike Patterson along with veterans Dan Klecko, Kimo von Oelhoffen, and Montae Reagor, and Darren Howard. While some might see having a pair of young tackles in front of themselves on the depth chart as a negative, Laws sees the positive in playing behind them. “Learning from Mike and Broderick’s experience will be instrumental in my success here,” he told us.
And what does Trevor see himself adding to the mix? “I think that I am definitely going to add some great depth, along with some play making ability and high energy to the DT rotation.”
Playing on the inside of the defensive line again will take a bit of getting used for Laws after playing on the outside in Notre Dame’s 3-4 defense in 200 since he spent the rest of his career on the inside before the Irish switched from the 4-3 defense prior to last season. “It really hasn’t been that hard,” Laws said of getting readjusted to the 4-3 defense with the Eagles. “I am used to playing inside still cause I’ve been doing it my whole life.”
Having the flexibility to play both positions is something that should help Laws see the field early and often in 2008. Some of the personnel moves the Eagles have made this off-season, such as the signing of Chris Clemons and drafting of smaller defensive ends Bryan Smith and Andy Studebacker, suggest that the Eagles may run a few 3-4 looks this season.
However the Eagles plan to use Laws this year, he feels comfortable enough in both the 3-4 and 4-3 to be successful. “I feel comfortable with both (the 3-4 and 4-3). I feel that physically I am a more natural inside player, but after my success as an end at Notre Dame, I think that I can do well in either position.
Despite playing in a different defensive system than he played in last season, Laws does see some similarities between Jim Johnson’s defense in Philadelphia compared to what Corwin Brown ran in South Bend last year. “Both defenses first focus is to shut down the run,” he said of the similarities.
There is, however, one main difference between the two systems. “Probably the biggest differences is the aggressiveness of coach Johnson’s defense. Simply put he gets after it,” said Laws.
Because of that aggressiveness, Trevor thinks that his pass rushing skills will be what he needs to work on most this summer to see the field when the Eagles take on the Rams on September 7th. “Pass rush will be my big emphasis,” he said before adding, “Being able to get a good push up the middle is crucial to the success of our defense.”
Aside from adjusting to a new defense, Laws will have to adjust to a different fan base this year. Philadelphia fans have a notorious reputation – some of it well deserved, some of it completely blown out of proportion. It is safe to say though that Laws won’t be hearing Philadelphia fans saying, “Welcome to Philadelphia” to opposing fans too often.
“I just hope I can win them over,” Laws said of playing for the rabid Philadelphia fan base. To win over the Philly fans, Laws’ plan is simple, “My plan is to work hard, make plays, and build their faith in me.”
Making plays and working hard to two things that should be easy for Laws to accomplish in Philly. He spent his entire Notre Dame career doing both of those things which culminated with an eyeing popping tackle total of 112 this past season. Working hard and making plays are also the two easiest ways for Laws to win over the Philadelphia fans. Well, either those two things or wearing a “Dallas Sucks” t-shirt to a couple fan events.
Laws should fit in very well in Philadelphia and should be well received by its fans. Philadelphia is still very much a blue collar town. A defensive tackle hustling around the field to the tune of 100 tackles is something that they (we) will eat up quicker than a “Whiz Wit” from Pat’s or Geno’s.
Speaking of Philadelphia’s most famous food, Laws mentioned he was treated to the Philadelphia classic his first day as an Eagle. “I was taken to Pat’s my first day in Philly. It was delicious. I am a food guy, so I can’t wait to try more great Philly food!”
Laws has had a familiar face helping him adjust to both his new team and city. Philadelphia spent a second round pick in 2007 on fellow Notre Dame alum Victor Abiamiri, and being reunited with his former roommate has helped make the transition easier on him. “It’s awesome to be playing with Vic again. He was my roommate for two years in college and we are still very close.”
While Laws has been busy adjusting to his new city and new team, his alma mater has not been far from his mind. “I’m excited to see how they do this year,” he said of 2008 Fighting Irish. “I am confident that they can have a successful season this fall if they keep at the pace Coach Weis has set for them. I’ll definitely have my eye on them!”
His expectations for himself for this year are also lofty. “Hopefully a good amount,” he answered when asked how much he expected to play this season. “ I look to back up the two starters and be in that rotation. DTs in the NFL don’t play the whole game, and Jim Johnson likes to rotate a lot on the line, so I’m hoping to get in there as much as possible.
Laws has landed in a pretty good situation in Philadelphia. He will be playing a team where he won’t be expected to start right away, but will be able to contribute at from day one. He also understands what it will take to win over the Philadelphia fans. Now, understanding what it will take and doing it are two completely different things in a sports town as tough on players as Philadelphia, but after watching Laws play for the last four years, I have little doubt he will have much trouble winning over the rest of my fellow Philadelphia brethren.
The full Q & A session with Trevor Laws can be read over on the blog.