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O-Line Searching For Best Fit At RG

Posted Aug 8, 2015

Lane Johnson is looking for a dance partner. He sees a handful of candidates, ranging from a veteran like Andrew Gardner to a three-year Eagle in Matt Tobin to the new guy on the block, John Moffitt. Somebody needs to step up and step in ...

Lane Johnson is looking for a dance partner. He sees a handful of candidates, ranging from a veteran like Andrew Gardner to a three-year Eagle in Matt Tobin to the new guy on the block, John Moffitt. Somebody needs to step up and step in.

If there is a glaring hole in the Eagles' offense, it's at right guard. It is a void, no question about it, and the Eagles are giving the candidates as many reps in the training sessions as possible to state their cases.

Tobin was the one taking most of the first-team reps in the spring drills, with Gardner sharing some time and Kevin Graf in contention. In the last few days, Moffitt, who signed in late June after missing the last two seasons when he walked away from the NFL, has been the one.

The Eagles appear to be in no hurry to name a starter. These things sort themselves out, you know. Four preseason games will serve as the proving ground, ultimately.

And Johnson waits. And works with whomever is lined up next to him.

"I need the reps now. Even in the preseason games, I need to be on the same level with him (right guard), because it takes two to tango. Even in pass protection, he helps me and I help him. It's vital," Johnson said. "The longer we play together, the more confidence we're going to have in each other, with each rep.

"It's musical chairs right now, so I don't know what the answer is."

The answer is that the cream is going to rise in the new few weeks and clarity will be provided based on the play in the preseason games. These games mean something. They mean a lot, in fact, for a team with some strong roster competition and a defense that will only take ball carriers to the ground in those four outings this summer.

It may not be ideal at right guard, but the Eagles are going to make do. They're relying on some good players bringing out the best in each other, a superlative coaching staff of Jeff Stoutland and Greg Austin and the fact that they take so many reps in the training sessions that will enable the center-right guard-right tackle side of the offensive to build continuity and trust before the regular season opens in Atlanta on September 14.

"It's going to come together. We all believe that," center Jason Kelce said. "When you have change, you have to work your way back into the right situation. We had injuries at right guard last year and used a few guys there. It was tough, but we made do. We all get reps together. We have familiarity with each other. It's not there yet. That's why we're out here every day.

"We will be right for the season. We have some guys here working hard. Competition is a good thing. We're going to be fine at that position and across our whole line."

That Moffitt is taking reps with the starters is a credit to how hard he has worked to get back into football shape after his layoff. Moffitt trained for a couple of months in an MMA-style gym and he's getting up to speed on the scheme here and his football technique. That's the hardest part to get back, Moffitt admits. He's still not there with his hands, or his feet, or his leverage, but Moffitt has shown enough to earn all of those reps with the starting offensive unit.

Who wins the job? Could be any one of a handful of the players working through the position. There isn't a timetable on when a decision will be made or when it should be made. All we know is that when the Eagles play at Atlanta on September 14 they're going to have a starting right guard and one that, hopefully, is step-for-step with Kelce and Johnson and ready to dance into the night.

"You want it to be one guy and keep it that way, but we've just got to roll with however it works out," Johnson said. "They're all good players. I just want to see how it turns out. I'm relying on him to help me and he's relying on me. The sooner we can figure out who that guy is going to be, I think, the better it's going to be for me and the offensive line."

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