The argument could be made that the strength of the Philadelphia Eagles defense is, well, the strength of a pair of defensive linemen.
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and defensive end Brandon Graham form a powerful duo that lines up on the left side of Philadelphia's defensive front. Fortunately for the Ravens, who will welcome the Eagles to M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, Cox and Graham are not unfamiliar.
As a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jeremy Zuttah played against Cox as a left guard in 2012 and a center in 2013. He remembers the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Cox as a stout three-technique tackle who typically lines up on the outside shoulder of the guard.
"As a three-tech, he's probably stronger than most three-techs you go against," Zuttah said. "Obviously, there are guys like [the Cincinnati Bengals'] Geno [Atkins] and [the Miami Dolphins' Ndamukong] Suh, but you can put him in that cast of D-tackles out there where they're very athletic but they also can bring that power."
Right tackle Rick Wagner got a workout against Graham when the two teams participated in a series of joint practices in August 2015. Even though Wagner's work was cut short by a left leg injury, he recalled that Graham is much more powerful than his 6-2, 265-pound frame.
"I think it's his leverage," Wagner said. "He's not the tallest defender, but he does a good job of getting under tackles and using power as well. So it's going to be a tough Sunday, but I've just got to keep working in practice."
Cox and Graham are 1-2 on the Eagles in sacks with 5½ and five, respectively. Cox snapped an eight-game sack drought by making 1½ in Sunday's loss to the Washington Redskins. Graham has added 11 tackles for loss and 65 pressures, which is the second-highest total among 4-3 defensive ends according to Pro Football Focus.
Zuttah, Wagner, and right guard Vladimir Ducasse have tangled with tough defensive linemen this season. So they're well-versed in the challenge that awaits them Sunday.
"Each guy's different, and it never gets easier in the NFL," Wagner said. "Each week is difficult, but seeing different styles, you definitely can put it together for a different opponent each week."