Philadelphia Eagles News

Camp Countdown: Offensive Tackle

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The offensive tackle position has not seen a lot of change over the last decade, but some could be made in the future. Three of the five tackles on the roster are under the age of 24 and both of the starters are over 32.

But for the present, those starting offensive tackles are some very familiar names.

Tra Thomas, a three-time Pro Bowl selection (2001, 2002 and 2004), has been a mainstay at the left tackle spot since being chosen in the first round in 1998. Entering 2008, Thomas ranks fourth in team history in games played by an offensive lineman (150), and seventh overall, having missed just eight games due to injury during his 10-year career. In addition, he and right tackle Jon Runyan have started 118 games together - the most by a tackle tandem in Eagles history.

A massive model of consistency, Runyan enters 2008 with an active streak of 194 consecutive starts (including playoffs). His 18 postseason starts since 1999 are more than any other active NFL player. The 6-7, 330-pound tackle's active streak of 176 consecutive regular season starts (all at right tackle) ranks second in the NFL among active players entering 2008 behind Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks (192).

Winston Justice has spent most of his first two seasons learning his trade behind the two Pro Bowl tackles. Justice showed some promise in his sophomore campaign, playing in seven games and notching his first start. He won a national championship and blocked for three Heisman Trophy winners during his collegiate career at USC (quarterback Carson Palmer, quarterback Matt Leinart and running back Reggie Bush).

King Dunlap was drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 draft and Franklin Dunbar was signed as a rookie free agent. Dunlap was a four-year letterman at Auburn as he appeared in 48 career games (20 starts) during his collegiate career. His best season came as a junior in 2006; as he was the starting left tackle for an offense that averaged 320.9 yards per game which earned him preseason Outland Trophy watch list honors prior to his senior campaign.

Dunbar was a two-time All-Sun Belt Conference selection during his three-year career at Middle Tennessee State, one in which he played in 36 games and notched 30 consecutive starts since his freshman campaign of 2005.

JUST A YEAR AGO ...

It has been eight years since the Eagles had to concern themselves with finding two tackles that could protect Donovan McNabb. Thomas proved to be one of the most underrated players on the team and Runyan showed a lot of mettle pushing through a tough tailbone injury. Winston Justice outlasted Pat McCoy who was released midway through last season.

BATTLE TO WATCH: Winston Justice vs. himself

After the start against the Giants in which McNabb was sacked 12 times, some questioned whether Justice, a second-round pick in 2006, would pan out. During the last set of Organized Team Activities, Justice was taking snaps at guard in addition to tackle. He has the size (6-6, 320) and the skill set, now he has to learn from his experience, coming into his third NFL season, and put everything together.

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