In a move that should come as no shock to anyone who has watched the Eagles defense perform in the preseason, it was leaked today that current nickle linebacker Omar Gaither will return to his former starting middle linebacker position.
“I’m going home, Gaither said. I feel like Dorothy. I didn’t click my heels. I got on my knees and did a lot of praying. It’s good though. I’m looking forward to it. I think it will be exciting for me.”
It’s been a strange journey for Gaither over the last couple of seasons in Philadelphia. A 5th rounder from Tennesee, he started out as the backup WIL and earned a starting role by the end of his rookie year. In his second season he was tagged as the heir apparent to Jeremiah Trotter in the middle, where he started all season. Last year, Stewart Bradley was inserted into the middle which moved Omar back to the weakside. The move did not work out well for Gaither who was relegated to backup duty in the second half of the year as he was replaced by the speedy Akeem Jordan. Rumors swirled that the demotion was not for his on field performance however. A report from Gary Cobb stated that Gaither had turned down a mid-season long term contract extension and that the organization was making him pay for it with less playing time. All sides denied the rumor, but the story persisted to hover around Gaither. To his credit, Omar was arguably the Birds best special teams player when he was placed there. He never stopped hustling and kept his impact to a maximum on the few snaps he was given.
The move certainly shows that the organization did not like the progression of second year backer Joe Mays. Mays was the talk of the preseason last year, as he led the team in tackles through all 4 contests and surprised many by making the active roster as an undrafted free agent from little known North Dakota State. Mays is noted for his physical play but in the 3 exhibition contests so far in August, he has been hesitant in his pursuit not showing the attacking downhill style that earned him his job last August. Mays’ spot on the 53 man roster I’m sure is safe, but at least for now he’ll be relegated to special teams duty and probably short yardage situations.