With the preseason winding down, and the season-opener against the Rams just around the corner, the depth chart is beginning to come into focus. Offensive tackle King Dunlap knows this well, and is looking to make an impression upon the coaches Thursday night.
As Winston Justice continues to work his way back from offseason knee surgery, Dunlap has been given the opportunity to take reps with the first-team offense, and will start at right tackle against the Browns. Dunlap understands how valuable those reps can be for someone who's looking to start in the NFL.
"I just want to go out there and take advantage of the opportunity I've got," Dunlap said in the locker room following practice Tuesday. "I started a couple of games last year, but this is a chance for me to be the starter going into the season and possibly be that guy."
Even though Justice, last year's starter at the position, is hoping to be back on the field by the beginning of the regular season, Dunlap said he's not focusing on his competition.
"Not at all," Dunlap said when asked if he has been looking over his shoulder. "I'm always looking to get better. I've been like that since I was in high school and college. I just try to get better every day and look forward. You can only control what you can control, and when I'm on the field I can control my play and what I do."
Many believed that with new offensive line coach Howard Mudd in the mix, larger, more powerful lineman, such as the 6-9, 330-pound Dunlap, would find themselves on their way out in favor of smaller, quicker players who might better fit Mudd's blocking scheme. Dunlap doesn't believe that his size is an issue.
"I haven't noticed him being particular about anybody's height or weight, as long as you can get it done," said Dunlap. "He is a really good coach. He was in Indy for a number of years and was very successful. (He has been) the least-sacked offensive line coach in the history of the league so far. So he knows what he's doing."
Dunlap knows that the coaches will be watching intently Thursday night, with the starters playing into the third-quarter. After impressing his coaches in the first two preseason games, Dunlap knows that a third solid game in a row could put him in contention to start at right tackle.
"I'm going to) just try to keep it going," said Dunlap. "Try to keep the offense moving the ball down the field and putting up points."
The fourth-year veteran, once a seventh-round pick of the Eagles, has been working hard to improve all offseason, and we'll get to see Thursday whether his hard work will pay off.
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