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Smooth Transition For O-Line?

Posted Jan 30, 2013

Following the 2010 season, the Eagles made a philosophical change along the offensive line. When Howard Mudd was hired to oversee the offensive line, he craved more athletic linemen who can get upfield and attack the second level of the defense.

After nearly 50 years as a player and as a coach in the NFL, Mudd has called it a career. However, new head coach Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense could mean that another overhaul of the offensive line may not be necessary. The biggest key for the offensive line will be, first and foremost, health. All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters missed the entire season with an Achilles injury. Up-and-coming second-year center Jason Kelce was done for the season with a knee injury in Week 2. Right tackle Todd Herremans was lost midway through the year with a foot injury.

The biggest adjustment, as former Oregon offensive tackle Kyle Long explained at the Senior Bowl, for the Eagles players will be the speed of how Kelly conducts everything.

"Get the cardio going in the offseason. It's a bit of a shock initially when you get in there," Long said. "You feel like you are in the best shape of your life when you're midseason playing in that offense."

However, Long even admitted that he does not know how Kelly will transition his program to the NFL. One thing Kelly has done since taking over as head coach is meeting with players either in person at the NovaCare Complex or talking to them by phone. Herremans, who is entering his ninth NFL season, was thrilled about the prospects for the team's future after meeting with Kelly.

"I love what he had to say. I'm very excited about the season," Herremans said on Comcast SportsNet's Daily News Live. "It's going to be high-tempo, high-energy and it's going to be a lot of fun to watch."

The question for Herremans is where he will fit in Kelly's offense. From 2006-10, Herremans was entrenched as the starter at left guard. In 2011, Herremans moved to right tackle. Rookie Dennis Kelly took over for Herremans after the injury and looks more suited to play at tackle rather than guard. The Eagles have Evan Mathis at left guard where he merited All-Pro consideration in 2012. Veteran Jake Scott ended the season as the starter at right guard, but he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. Plus, former top draft pick Danny Watkins, who opened the season as the starter at right guard, could benefit from a fresh start with a new coaching staff.

"(Kelly's) not too worried about it because I've played them all," Herremans said when asked where he will line up in 2013.

The performance of the Eagles' offensive line was marred by injury in 2012. Between the return of a few key pieces and the up-tempo pace of Kelly's offense, the transition for the offensive line - maybe with the addition of a piece or two from what is considered a strong draft class - could potentially be a smooth one in 2013.

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