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Trotter could have his old job back

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Unhappy with their run defense, the Philadelphia Eagles could be making some defensive changes.

Jeremiah Trotter, who went to two Pro Bowls with the Eagles in 2000-01, appears to have reclaimed his starting job at middle linebacker, with Mark Simoneau moving to the weakside position to replace Nate Wayne.

Also, Sam Rayburn could be taking Darwin Walker's spot at defensive tackle if he's healthy enough to play after sustaining a concussion in an auto accident this week.

Eagles coach Andy Reid wouldn't confirm any of the lineup changes.

``We have different combinations that we're putting together according to what they do so we'll see how it goes,'' Reid said.

Trotter said he wasn't told he'll start against Dallas (3-5) on Monday night, but expects to be on the field.

I was told to get ready. Whatever happens, happens,'' Trotter said.I'm preparing as usual. It's crazy. I'm excited. I'm looking forward to it.''

The Eagles (7-1) are ranked 27th against the run, allowing 130.6 yards a game. In the last four games, they've allowed 688 yards, an average of 172.

The Steelers ran for 252 yards in a 27-3 victory that snapped Philadelphia's seven-game winning streak last Sunday. Jerome Bettis filled in for injured running back Duce Staley and gained 149 yards on 33 carries.

The Eagles are hoping the combination of Trotter, Simoneau and strongside linebacker Dhani Jones can help stop the run, along with a better performance from the defensive linemen.

My attitude on stopping the run is playing downhill, being physical and beating the guy in front of you,'' Trotter said.They know what I bring to the table. They know when I'm on the field, somebody is going to get hit.

``I'm going to continue to bring that physical play and leadership. I try to play with passion.''

Trotter spent his first four seasons in Philadelphia, establishing himself as one of the best players at his position. He had 202 tackles in his second season in 1999, and went to the Pro Bowl the next two years.

A popular player among fans, Trotter left the Eagles following a bitter contract dispute after the 2001 season. He signed a seven-year, $35 million contract with Washington, but failed to live up to expectations in two seasons with the Redskins.

Trotter was released for salary-cap purposes earlier this year, and came back to the Eagles humbled, with a new role as a special teams player and significantly less money; he signed for less than $1 million.

``Everything I've been through the last two years can only make me a better player,'' Trotter said.

A Texas native, Trotter is looking forward to playing before some family and friends, along with a national television audience.

``I always play well in Dallas. Always,'' Trotter said.

Simoneau has started 25 of 26 games, including playoffs, since joining the Eagles last season. He has 39 tackles.

Wayne has started every game since coming to Philadelphia last season. He has 37 tackles.

Rayburn, who earned a roster spot as a rookie free agent from Tulsa last season, leads all defensive tackles with five sacks. Walker, who has started every game since the 2002 season, has one sack and 21 tackles.

I've played with the guy for a long time,'' free safety Brian Dawkins said of Trotter.He's a tough, aggressive guy. He's going to eat up some space. I definitely welcome him.

``Any time you gain what he brings to the table, he's physical and brings an attitude, it's a good thing for the defense.''

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