Injuries to wide receivers have plagued the Eagles during training camp, but the team has a similar situation developing on the offensive line. As a result, Allen Barbre, a journeyman who was out of football last season, will start Friday's preseason opener at left tackle.
Barbre's promotion came after Jason Peters, Dennis Kelly, and Ed Wang were sidelined throughout the week.
Peters, the four-time Pro Bowl tackle, has a hamstring injury and the Eagles are being careful about his return. The team announced Thursday that Kelly, a second-year tackle who started 10 games last season, would miss the preseason after undergoing back surgery. Wang has been hindered by a knee injury and is not expected to play.
It's important for the Eagles that first-round pick Lane Johnson gets experience at right tackle, where he'll play when Peters is healthy. That means the team needs a left tackle, and opens the door for Barbre, who swings between guard and tackle.
"Big opportunity," Barbre said. "Just go out and prove myself."
His ascent on the depth chart combined with Kelly's surgery could help Barbre make the roster. Barbre, 29, has started seven games in five seasons for three teams. He did not play in a game the last two seasons.
"I thought he competed very well the last two days against a pretty good front for the Patriots, so hopefully we'll get a chance to see him," coach Chip Kelly said. "Part of our deal with Dennis being out right now is developing some depth at tackle. . . . To have a guy with flexibility as a guard-tackle guy, I think that helps us in the long run."
Cary Williams sat out the last two days with a hamstring injury, so the starting cornerbacks against New England will be Bradley Fletcher and Brandon Boykin. Patrick Chung and Nate Allen will start at safety.
Wide receivers Damaris Johnson and Russell Shepard also missed practice, but Kelly included them in the mix of receivers to play on Friday. The Eagles have nine receivers on the roster.
When general manager Howie Roseman was asked why the Eagles have not filled the three open roster spots leading up to Friday's game, he responded by pointing out that with 32 NFL teams and 90 players per roster, not many quality players are available.
Roseman also said that with the team preparing for a game, it would have been difficult to have get a new player ready. Nonetheless, the team still has three spots going to waste.