The interior of the offensive line was completely changed prior to the start of last season. The 2011 Eagles opened the year with a new starter at left guard, center and right guard. The Eagles kept the trio that finished the season intact when they inked left guard
1. Will The "Big Three" Take The Next Step?
Upon the team's arrival at Training Camp last year, the team's first-round pick,
Offensive line coach Howard Mudd worked wonders with the tackles -
Will the Eagles' interior line be able to hit the ground running, so to speak, once camp begins? Mathis will not have the benefit of the All-Pro Peters due to injury on his left as he adjusts to new starting left tackle
As much as the loss of Peters hurt this offseason, if the interior starting trio of Mathis, Kelce and Watkins all improve than the line as a whole will be much improved in 2012.
2. Who Will Be The Backup At Center?
According to Pro Football Focus, no player on offense played more snaps in 2011 than starting center Jason Kelce, who played in all but six of the team's plays. Herremans played the exact same amount. Last year, the Eagles had a veteran backup in Jamaal Jackson, who was a longtime starter for the Eagles and someone who could be relied upon to spell Kelce if needed. The Eagles released Jackson this offseason. Who will be the backup?
The two players who worked primarily as the backup at center in the Organized Team Activities were
The Eagles did sign Steve Vallos earlier this offseason. The fifth-year veteran has played in 40 career NFL games and started in eight of those contests (with seven at center). As excited as the team is about Kelce, the Eagles need to have a backup option in case of injury. Vallos provides insurance from an experience standpoint, but the Eagles want to see how he performs in Mudd's scheme at Training Camp and the preseason.
3. Will The Eagles Opt For Youth Or Experience?
In addition to Vallos, the Eagles brought back former draft pick
The Eagles have a number of young players at both guard and center in addition to Vandervelde.
Last season, the Eagles kept three backup interior linemen - Jackson, Vandervelde and
Yes, Dunlap factors into the mix at guard, but is right now the top swing tackle who also has an eye on the left tackle job. That offers the Eagles some flexibility. That could also be why Vandervelde was taking snaps at center in the spring. If a player can play more than one position, it will help when it comes time to whittle down the 90-man roster.
Will the Eagles want a player or two on the bench with some experience? Or will the Eagles simply keep the players who shine during Training Camp and the preseason? Needless to say, based on the fact that Mudd started a rookie at center from the beginning of Training Camp last year, it seems the Eagles will want the best players regardless of experience.
It will be interesting to see what the depth chart looks like once the full-team practices begin Thursday, July 26.
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