Eagles make wholesale OL changes

Posted Aug. 28, 2011 @ 1:04 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

The right tackle job has been handed to Todd Herremans, a move that appears to indicate that the Eagles are all systems go with starting two rookies on the offensive line.

Herremans moves over from left guard, and it has been an idea that head coach Andy Reid has floated for years, that the able Herremans could play tackle if needed. That move has been resisted after he found a home at left guard. But given all the uncertainty and moving parts on the offensive line, the Herremans move became necessary.

The first-unit line has struggled at times this preseason as the team breaks in two rookies, C Jason Kelce and ORG Danny Watkins, as would-be starters. New OL coach Howard Mudd likes both players' competitiveness, and their size and style of play fit what Mudd is looking for up front.

The Eagles just couldn't give the starting ORT job to King Dunlap with Winston Justice (knee) and Ryan Harris (back) out indefinitely. Justice currently resides on the PUP list, and Harris, who came over as a free agent this offseason, might be placed on injured reserve if he's deemed to be out too long.

The first sign that Dunlap wasn't going to be handed the starting job, despite getting first-team reps, was when the team signed free agent Reggie Wells as insurance. Now Dunlap and Austin Howard are the backup tackles.

The Eagles know how important protecting QB Michael Vick is, and despite the preseason struggles to do so, they apparently will work through the growing pains up front and do their best to shield the young and perhaps vulnerable interior.

It's also notable that the Eagles' best success on screens and power run plays in the preseason has mostly been to the left side of the line. Perhaps the switch of Herremans to the right side and the insertion of Evan Mathis, who has played well in the preseason and who had graded out well in limited snaps with the Bengals previously, could balance some of that offensive production out.