Eagles coach Andy Reid today confirmed a Wilmington News-Journal report that first-round draft pick Danny Watkins will start at right guard this week.
Watkins said: 'I've been coming in early, leaving late, trying to get better and work away at it. I've made ground, for sure."
Watkins said his early season comment about being overwhelmed was overhyped -- he said he didn't mean the Eagles offense overwhelmed him, he was talking about moving to a new city in a new part of the country, having to deal with media attention, fans knowing him when he went out to eat, and so on.
"It's weird," Watkins said. "It's not like Kelowna (his hometown in British Columbia) where I've grown up with all these people for 25 years ... That part's different. I've never had that before."
Watkins said people who recognize him are supportive, intrigued by his unusual background.
"I'm still getting used to that," he said. "I'm just a regular guy."
So is the guy he is replacing.
"It's professional football," said Kyle DeVan. "They're going to put Danny out there, and I'm fine with that. I'm still going to go out there and help Danny get ready, help the defense get ready ... I'm still a part of this team."
DeVan had a tough time in the San Francisco loss. Among the lowlights of that game was DeVan tripping and falling into the hole Ronnie Brown was supposed to hit on the infamous "run-pass option" that ended up being a senseless giveaway.
"There's some plays in everry game that you want to go back and change," DeVan said. "Against the 49ers, there were a few more plays I'd like to go back and change" than normal. "I felt like it wasn't my best game. There's no doubt about that," he said.
Right tackle Todd Herremans has been a sort of mentor for Watkins, since he arrived in Philadelphia. Herremans was asked what he thinks the rookie has learned in four weeks of watching.
"I think he's just learned a lot about how he needs to slow things down in his mind and simplify 'em, rather than overprocessing everything. Just take care of what his responsibility is," Herremans said.
Herremans said Watkins "has done a real good job" of working on technique since he was deemed not ready to start just before the start of the season.
"He's a very physical player. He's a big body, and he's not an idiot," Herremans said. "In a lot of ways, people are saying that he just can't pick things up. I don't think that's the case. He was given a lot to digest, right away. Taking all that he was given, slowing it down for the last four weeks, I think helped him digest that, and now he's going to be able to come out and produce better."
Watkins, 26, was deemed an attractive pick 23rd overall in the first round in part because he was supposedly ready to play, wouldn't need a long apprenticeship. But the NFL lockout killed all the spring work that benefits rookies most of all, and then Watkins missed five days of training camp workouts while his contract was being negotiated. The former British Columbia firefighter struggled from the moment he stepped on the field, moving from left tackle at Baylor to right guard.
The Birds kept Watkins in the starting lineup all preseason before admitting he wasn't ready. DeVan was cut by offensive line coach Howard Mudd's former team, the Colts, and joined the Eagles just before the season opener. He, left guard Evan Mathis and rookie center Jason Kelce have formed an undersized interior trio that doesn't get much push in short-yardage running. Watkins is a bigger, stronger guard than DeVan -- if he knows what he's supposed to do in Mudd's scheme.
Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair his left torn tricep tendon, which was injured during last Sunday’s game vs. San Francisco, the Eagles said.
The procedure was performed by team physicians Dr. Peter DeLuca and Dr. Paul Marchetto of the Rothman Institute of Philadelphia.
Dixon was placed on the injured reserve list yesterday. The Eagles re-signed Derek Landri to replace him on the roster.