It's been four weeks since we've seen Danny Watkins, but his teammates expect a more aggressive player when the first round pick returns to the starting line up.
Watkins' offensive line teammates said the rookie has used his four weeks on the bench to learn the Eagles offense and should be ready to take advantage of his physical strengths now that he has been put back in the starting line up.
Watkins is set to start at right guard after being inactive for three of the Eagles first four games. King Dunlap will also be filling in for injured left tackle Jason Peters.
"In camp he was a little bit mentally confused and lost, I’d say," said center Jason Kelce. "Since then he’s definitely learned the playbook a little bit better, learned his techniques better."
Kelce was alongside Watkins through training camp, so he said the switch from Kyle DeVan at right guard won't affect the line's chemistry very much, though the center said DeVan's experience in the Howard Mudd system helped him. Still, Kelce said Watkins has all the physical tools an offensive lineman could want.
"They wouldn’t be putting him in there if they wren’t ready for him to be more aggressive and I think that’s the biggest thing about knowing the playbook and knowing the techniques. Once you know them then you can be aggressive with them then you can be the attacker instead of taking it," Kelce said.
Asked about what Watkins brings to the field, if he can play without over-analyzing, Kelce said, "Danny's got pretty much any physical attribute you want in an offensive lineman, especially an offensive guard, and that’s why he was drafted in the first round. He’s athletic, strong legs, storng base, long arms, big kid."
Kelce is also a rookie and started right away, but he noted that Watkins had to deal with moving from tackle to guard. Watkins also missed the start of training camp in a contract dispute.
Several other Eagles described Watkins as a "physical" player, which is something the team has lacked in short yardage situations.
Guard Todd Herremans, perhaps in a moment of honesty, conceded that the team doesn't know exactly what to expect from Watkins.
"It’s hard to say. We haven’t sepnt too much time with him. He's a very physical player, big body, he’s not an idiot," Herremans said. "He was given a lot to digest right away."
Other news and notes:
-- Darryl Tapp (pectoral) and Juqua Parker (ankle) are both practicing today. Andy Reid said he will see how they do before evaluating them for Sunday, though Tapp sounds confident that he can play.
-- Peters and Trent Cole are almost certainly out Sunday, Reid confirmed.
-- Defensive tackle Derek Landri, signed Tuesday, said he believes he can play if called on Sunday.
-- Several Eagles were asked about the "dream team" label that has now come crashing down on them. "That word is dead now," said Mike Vick.
-- Reid said the safety line up will be unchanged this week, although safety Jaiquawn Jarrett is getting more practice snaps with the first team. Reid did not sound ready to promote a second rookie today.
-- Reid defended Nnamdi Asomugha's early play, saying "90 percent of the time he's been great."
-- Several Eagles defensive players said they did not expect significant scheme changes to the "wide-nine" style. Linebacker Brian Rolle said he's simply go from playing 120 miles-an-hour to 200, and that the defense is determined to stop teams from running on them.