There was a noticeable change on the first-team offense Saturday morning as King Dunlap lined up to take the reps at left tackle, while Demetress Bell, who has been the first-team left tackle for every rep since the spring, sat on the sidelines waiting to get his reps with the second team.
But head coach Andy Reid said that giving Dunlap some time with the starters has been in the plan all along.
"It's fair to King to do that," said Reid. "He came back here under the assumption that he'd have the opportunity to compete and he's done well. He'll get an opportunity. There's not a lot of separation between those guys right at this minute. King deserves that opportunity."
In his first game with the Eagles after signing with the team as a free agent following Jason Peters' Achilles injury, Bell, like the rest of the first-team offense, only played six snaps. But he took the temporary demotion in stride.
"It's not surprising," Bell said. "It is what it is. If that's what the coaches say, then that's what it is. It's not my job to sit there and coach. It's my job to just play.
"For the six reps that we were in, I did alright. Nothing fancy. Nothing spectacular or anything like that."
Meanwhile, for Dunlap, there was no celebration of the move-on-up. He too seemed unphased by the development.
"I guess they're trying to get a fit for who would be the best fit for the O-line," Dunlap said. "I know that me and Demetress come out here and we both work hard every day. Like I said, the whole goal is to come out here and challenge each other every day in practice and try to get better. The coaches are the ones who decide who starts, not us. The only thing we can control is just working hard and getting better."
But Dunlap did allow his desire to start at his natural left tackle position to shine through.
"I've always had the mentality of you fight for something that you want," he said. "When I first got here I wasn't brought in to be a starter. I've always had to fight and try to beat somebody out. My goal is still going in and working hard every day and just become one of the guys who goes out there first on Sunday. Right now, we're just trying to get the offense flowing. We're going to try to come out next week and put up some points, move the ball a little bit so we can get the continuity going and get the season rolling."
A seventh-round pick of the Eagles in 2008, Dunlap, 6-9, 330, has developed into the team's best and most versatile backup lineman. He has started seven games, at a combined three positions, over the last two seasons, and done well enough that the Eagles made an effort to bring him back in the fold when Dunlap hit free agency in the spring.
"I like where he fits in," offensive line coach Howard Mudd said of Dunlap earlier in Training Camp. "Actually a big, long tall guy like that, the methods we use, makes it really easy. In fact, I was watching a video last night, we were teaching the young guys a play and we made them walk up in front of the room, this if the way you do it and all that, and one guy did it okay, (Evan) Mathis did that technique okay. King Dunlap was just like exactly you'd want to demonstrate it ... He really played very well when we needed him to play. I'm glad we have him."
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