Saturday, November 22, 2014
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Watkins Still Starting; Jackson OK as Backup for Now

The Eagles reconvened to practice for the first time at the regular season roster limit of 53 today, with rookie Danny Watkins still at right guard, despite the arrival of Kyle DeVan, the former Colts starter the Birds picked up over the weekend.

Watkins Still Starting; Jackson OK as Backup for Now

New Eagles guard Kyle DeVan had his first practice with the team on Monday. (Staff photo by Les Bowen)
New Eagles guard Kyle DeVan had his first practice with the team on Monday. (Staff photo by Les Bowen)

The Eagles reconvened to practice for the first time at the regular season roster limit of 53 today, with rookie Danny Watkins still at right guard, despite the arrival of Kyle DeVan, the former Colts starter the Birds picked up over the weekend.

A source close to the situation said the Eagles "really want to" start Watkins this week in the opener in St. Louis, but the first-round pick from Baylor remains raw. There is concern about the combination of rookie center Jason Kelce and Watkins, on the road in loud domes for the first two weeks of the season, at St. Louis and at Atlanta.

"This week I feel like I'm going to be a lot more prepared," Watkins told reporters. "I'm already feeling a little better about it."

DeVan said he spent his first day of practice with the scout team.

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"All I know that they expect of me is to learn this offense as fast as I can," DeVan, 26, said. "A lot of the techniques (offensive line coach Howard Mudd) teaches here, we did in Indy."

DeVan said he is eager to contribute in whatever way the Eagles have in mind.

It seems likely DeVan is here to ease Watkins' adjustment, in practice, certainly, and possibly by filling in for him if he turns out not to be ready to start.

"I'm not worried about where I am in the lineup, in the rotation. It doesn't really matter to me," DeVan said. "I need to learn the playbook as soon as I can and learn all about this offense."

"I've been where Danny was," DeVan said. "I've been the young guy in the group ... (Mudd) expects a lot from Watkins, being a first-round draft pick, and I think he's a good player. I think Howard will get him right and get him ready to go for Sundays."

Meanwhile, veteran center Jamaal Jackson said he was not particularly surprised or disappointed to stay on the roster as a backup to Kelce, and possibly to Watkins or left guard Evan Mathis. Jackson's agent, J.R. Rickert, said over the weekend that the Eagles could have traded Jackson to teams where he could again be a starter, but the Birds declined. Rickert and Jackson said they did not ask for a trade.

"I love where I'm at, basically," Jackson, 31, said. "Let's just leave it at that."

Could the team's reluctance to part with Jackson mean he has a change to reemerge in a starting role at some point?

"You have to ask them that," he said. "I'm just here to work, man. Whatever they ask me to do, I'm going to do it. I just have to come to work every day and be positive about it ... I'm just thankful to have a job, first and foremost. With my girl being three weeks due (with his fourth child), I think this is the place to be for the time being."

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Safety Nate Allen said he and Jarrad Page split first-team reps today.

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The Eagles practiced indoors with the noise machine to simulate dome conditions.

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Backup quarterback Vince Young, who suffered a hamstring strain in the preseason finale at the Jets Thursday, did not practice. Winston Justice (knee) and Juqua Parker (calf) did.

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The Eagles added TE Anthony Hill and WR Ronald Johnson to their practice squad, then later today filled out the 8-man squad with DT Cedric Thornton, cut to add Kyle DeVane on Sunday.

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Former Eagles guard Max Jean-Gillies signed with the Panthers. He started 25 games over the past three seasons and is expected to split time at guard.

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For more Eagles coverage, including a health update on Buddy Ryan, click here.

Les Bowen Daily News Staff Writer
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