NFL Preseason Wrap Up: Philadelphia Eagles
The most talented team in the NFL is undergoing a major shake-up on the offensive line with less than 2 weeks until the regular season opener in St. Louis. You could see that changes were on the horizon when the Eagles brought long time offensive line coach Howard Mudd from Indianapolis.
Jamaal Jackson - Philadelphia Eagles
However, no one would ever guess that only Jason Peters is projected to start in his familiar left tackle position on opening day. The other 4 positions on the offensive line are projected to have new personnel in place, with Todd Herremans going from left guard to right tackle.
Danny Watkins, a first round draft pick from Baylor, will get the nod at right guard and by all accounts will grow into a fine pro offensive lineman. However, Watkins is behind in the learning curve without the benefit of mini-camps and off season team activities. I expect Watkins to get better with each week and when he watches the film from last Thursday, he will hardly recognize the player he sees.
Perhaps the biggest surprise involves center Jamaal Jackson going to a back-up role in favor of sixth round draft pick, rookie Jason Kelce from Cincinnati. Kelce is in the mold of Howard Mudd’s favorite, Jeff Saturday. In Thursday's preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, Kelce struggled against rookie Phil Taylor. This move will be under close scrutiny for the entire season. It is extremely difficult for a rookie to start at center in the NFL, in any offensive system.
Herremans should be fine at right tackle. He is big and strong enough to be an effective run blocker and he has excellent feet in pass protection. Last year’s starter, Winston Justice, is still on the PUP list and could land on IR if the time table for his return extends into the regular season. Taking Herremans place at left guard will be veteran Evan Mathis formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals. Mathis has graded out well thus far in preseason and should be adequate in this situation.Continued on the next page