Our eight-day look at who makes the Eagles’ 53-man roster continues today with a look at the offensive line (Here’s the Day 1 look at defensive end).
This position may be the most interesting position when it comes to who stays and who goes because new offensive line coach Howard Mudd has made some drastic changes in terms of style and personnel. A few familiar faces may be on the chopping block.
First cuts come next Tuesday when the 90-man roster is pared down to 80. Final cuts are on Sept. 3.
Likely to keep: 9-10.
Locks: Jason Peters is your starting left tackle. Live with it. Todd Herremans is the left guard unless Andy Reid and company decide that myriad number of (not very attractive) options at right tackle don’t make them queasy. Then Herremans could slide outside, although the Eagles hope to avoid such a move. Top draft pick Danny Watkins is still penciled in as the starting right guard, although he’s a project. Jason Kelce has eked out ahead of stalwart Jamaal Jackson for the starting center spot. Whether he wins or not – and it says here he does – the sixth-round rookie isn’t going anywhere.
Near lock: I’m not sure I get the King Dunlap hate. For a seventh-round pick the Eagles have gotten more than they could rightly ask for from the tackle. He’s not great and his height is always a detriment, but he’s improved with each season in Philadelphia. Dunlap is currently the starting right tackle with Winston Justice and Ryan Harris on the shelf, which is, admittedly, not ideal. But he can play both tackle spots and is a worthy backup. Evan Mathis is a Mudder – not that tall, squatty and athletic. I’m pretty sure St. Joseph’s Prep has a few bigger offensive linemen. But he’s versatile and is insurance at left guard in case Herremans gets the nod to scoot out to right tackle.
Bubble: Even if Jackson isn’t the starter I’m inclined to think he stays. His contract isn’t huge (roughly $1.5 million) and the Eagles need a safeguard in case Kelce struggles. Mike McGlynn would have made Jackson expendable, but he’s played more guard than center under Mudd and has looked, to put it plainly, lost. Hard to believe a 16-game starting center for a playoff team might not make the squad a season later, but that’s the scenario McGlynn faces. He could be trade bait. Harris hasn’t practiced in nearly two weeks because of back spasms. He looked like the man to beat at right tackle early in camp, but has morphed into the second coming of Shawn Andrews. If he’s healthy he’s here, although the Eagles can’t cut an injured player, which would mean he’s here either way. Reggie Wells missed all of camp at Lehigh, so he’s fresher than the rest of the linemen. His signing seemed like a desperate move by a desperate team, but a good showing Thursday against the Browns could help the veteran's cause. Julian Vandervelde was a fifth-round pick so he’s at least assured a spot on the practice squad. I’m sure the Eagles could stow him away there without any other teams plucking him up. Tackle Austin Howard, an undrafted rookie from a year ago, is on the downside of the bubble.
PUP: Justice won’t start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform List, but the prospects of him being back in time for the opener appear dim.
Leave: Reid granted tackle Jose Acuna, an undrafted rookie pickup off waivers, a leave to attend to family matters.
Gone: A.Q. Shipley hardly played last Thursday against the Steelers, but has another year of practice squad eligibility if the Eagles want to keep a center on reserve. The same applies for tackle Fenuki Tupou, who currently has a knee sprain, and guard Dallas Reynolds. Tackle Spencer Johnson is a goner.