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Wednesday Notebook: Watkins Practices

Posted Nov 14, 2012

Danny Watkins returned to practice for the Eagles Wednesday and resumed his role as first-team right guard. But the rest of the offensive line reportedly underwent another change, as King Dunlap, who started at right tackle last week against the Dallas Cowboys, returned to left tackle and Dennis Kelly, who played right guard in Watkins' stead the last three games, moved to right tackle, a more natural position for the fifth-round rookie.

"That's where I feel better at because of my size," said Kelly, 6-8, 321. "That's what I have played throughout college. I'm a fan of being the one who plays out there.

"I think I feel more natural with left (tackle) because I played there for three and a half years (at Purdue), but I'm right-handed, so it's not really hard to switch to a right-hand stance and so I think I kind of feel good with both."

Watkins, meanwhile, said that he expects to play Sunday when the Eagles take on the Washington Redskins. If the offensive line does feature the same lineup that it featured in Wednesday's practice, it would be the Eagles' fifth different starting combination in 10 games this season.

As for the rest of the injured Eagles, wide receiver Jason Avant (hamstring) and running back Chris Polk (toe) have already been ruled out for Sunday. Wide receiver Mardy Gilyard (hamstring) and quarterback Michael Vick (concussion) did not practice Wednesday. Five players were listed on the injury report as full participants: Watkins, safety Kut Coleman (back), linebacker Akeem Jordan (thumb), linebacker Mychal Kendricks (foot) and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (back).

Maclin said that he's sore but left no doubt that he plans to play on Sunday. He also said that he had a conversation with Vick on Tuesday that didn't focus on football, but he passed along that Vick was "able to hold a conversation."

"It's not like he's in la-la land," Maclin said.

Faith In Foles

While the Eagles await Vick's continuance through the concussion protocol, rookie Nick Foles is preparing in practice to make his first NFL start. After subbing in for the concussed Vick last Sunday against the Cowboys, Foles acquitted himself well for a first-timer, though he did commit two turnovers.

If it does turn out that Foles is under center on Sunday, his teammates have even more confidence that the week of practice working with the starters will have a positive effect.

"I think it'll be a big difference, to be able to see the looks, make the checks, be able to do the things that you need to do while you're in a game and to be able to do it at practice," said tight end Brent Celek. "I think it'll be a huge help for him."

After he was drafted in the third round by the Eagles in last April's NFL Draft, it didn't take long for Foles to make a positive impression.

"I've said it since day one, obviously his arm strength, he has really good arm strength," said Maclin. "He can throw the ball in places and can put the ball in places that not most guys can in this league. That's one thing that he definitely possesses. And then when he got in the preseason, the poise that he showed is not what most rookie quarterbacks show, so I was impressed with that too.

"When he first came in, you could tell the type of person he was, the type of quarterback he was," said Celek. "I mean, he's got all the tools, but then his mindset. He's got it.

"That's what so surprising about him, he's very calm. He plays within the offense and he doesn't get rattled."

The Eagles have long had success implementing backup quarterbacks into the offense when called upon during Andy Reid's tenure. From A.J. Feeley and Koy Detmer to Kevin Kolb and, eventually, even Michael Vick, backup quarterbacks have been able to run the offense successfully. That's a credit to the coaching staff, Maclin said.

"I just think it speaks to the type of preparation that we have our backup quarterbacks do here," said Maclin. "I don't think that we demand any less of them as far as getting yourself ready, approaching every week like you're going to be the one playing in a game. I think that's credit to coach Reid and (offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg) and (quarterback coach Doug Pederson) for having those guys ready to step  in if anybody goes down. Obviously your starters are your starters for a reason, but the good thing they do here is have everyone prepare through the week as if they're going to be the starter."

Bear Reunion

If Watkins does return to action on Sunday, he'll be sharing a field with a player he used to be charged with protecting in Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Watkins blocked for Griffin for two years at Baylor and, as a left tackle then, was Griffin's blindside protector. Even then, Watkins expected big things from Griffin.

"I remember when I was there, we all knew that he was going to be a successful player," said Watkins. "He's a smart guy, really good player, good personality, he wears the goofy socks. It's not a surprise to see that he was the No. 2 overall pick and the success he's having."

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