A long, frustrating 2012 is behind him, and Jason Peters is ready to go. He called himself "100 percent" healthy, and if there is any better news for an Eagles offense that was decimated by injury last year, I don't know what it could be.
Peters is simply, when he's right, the best left offensive tackle in the league, and certainly is one of the most talented and accomplished in the history of this franchise. A long year and change of rehabilitation has gotten Peters to where he wants to be. He's strong, agile and can handle all of the required physical demands on the football field.
We've long hoped that Peters would be fine after his sidelined 2012, and so when Peters spoke on Tuesday after the first team workout of the offseason conditioning program, he did so with confidence, saying he could have, had the circumstances been different, played last December.
However, the Eagles were awash in losses last December, and the coaching staff felt no need to rush Peters back to the starting lineup.
Now, it's an entirely different scenario. Peters is the strongest point of an offensive line that has a chance to be very, very good.
With Peters at left tackle, the Eagles can line up in the order they want. Evan Mathis has played terrifically well in two seasons here. Jason Kelce was on the fast track to becoming one of the best centers in the league before he tore his knee up in Week 2 of last year's game against Baltimore. Todd Herremans is a versatile guard/tackle still in the prime of his career. Dennis Kelly showed a lot of promise in his rookie season of 2012. Danny Watkins is a first-round talent who gets a fresh start and a clean slate under new offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. Dallas Reynolds gained valuable experience at center after Kelce's injury and is back to take his game up another level.
The Eagles have the makings of a very, very good offensive line. They want it to be great, of course, the best in the entire league, and so to go from injury-ravaged last year to good on paper to the best in the league on the field would be quite an undertaking. That's the goal, and it sure helps that Peters has a clean bill of health and has such confidence in his return to the top of the food chain at left tackle.
Peters' good news was just part of a feel-good day at the NovaCare Complex. The vibe is upbeat and the players reported that the tempo for the first day of conditioning was fast, fast and faster. As we move along here, the focus for the fans is going to return back to the depth chart, and the offensive line is going to be a huge focal point.
Will the Eagles add to what they have up front? They could, for sure, with an offensive tackle group said to be strong in the draft specifically at the top of the draft, use an early pick to upgrade the line of scrimmage. They could see if Watkins is ready to blossom, or if Kelly is ready to take the next step forward in his development.
As it looks from this perspective, the question is the right side of the line. How do the coaches see Herremans? He made a nice transition from left guard to right tackle prior to the 2011 season and played well at right tackle for a season and a half before suffering a foot injury against the Giants last November.
Does Stoutland want Herremans to remain at right tackle and protect the edge? Does he want to see if Herremans is best served to play either guard spot? We don't know the answers to those questions and may not until the draft is complete.
Until then, all we have is questions and curiosity about the roster. That and a great surge of encouragement knowing that Peters reports that he is well and right and on track to be the player he was prior to his Achilles tendon injury.