Philadelphia Eagles News

Dunlap Learns Valuable Lesson For The Future

Left tackle King Dunlap got in his stance for the Eagles' first offensive snap of Thursday night's game against the Colts. He was expecting to see Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney lined up in front of him. It certainly wasn't Freeney. It was backup Josh Thomas. On the second snap, Thomas was still there.

The Eagles still offered the second-year player help whether it was Jason Avant lining up alongside him or LeSean McCoy chipping. It was Dunlap's first time starting and playing with the top offense since he was at Auburn.

Everything seemed to go smooth. It appeared as if Freeney earned a night off. Dunlap did not get off that easy.

As the Eagles offense mounted its first significant march of the game into Colts' territory midway through the first quarter, they set up for a third-and-4 from the Indy 13-yard line. All of a sudden, Freeney was there. Dunlap was out on an island. Off the snap, Dunlap got out wide expecting the speed rush around the edge. He ducked his head down as he punched. Freeney changed direction using a spin move and went inside. Dunlap didn't have a chance. McNabb was sacked, fumbled the ball and the Colts recovered.

Just like that, Dunlap had his true introduction to what it was like to play with the best-of-the-best in the NFL.

"A lot of people probably thought I was real nervous and I was a little nervous, but he's one of the best defensive ends in the league and he's been doing it for years," Dunlap said after the 23-15 loss. "You know he's been to the Pro Bowl and I was looking forward to the challenge, but he got the best of me this time."

Dunlap was drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft because of his gargantuan height (6-9) and massive wingspan. He missed all of his rookie season with an ankle injury. He impressed the coaches in training camp enough to earn a chance to start with Jason Peters sidelined with a quad injury. It may have only been a preseason game in the standings, but it provided valuable experience for Dunlap moving forward.

"It was a great experience. It's different in a game than it is in practice," Dunlap said. "It's a lot faster and a much quicker pace. I was antsy to get out there and get a taste of what it was like. Now I know where I'm at and what I need to work on to get better every week."

He also had to learn quickly to get over his mistake.

"When that happened I know you have to have a short memory," Dunlap said. "I have to get back out there and keep blocking other guys that are out there. I wish I had a chance to get back at him, but you know he got me. You just got move on from it, learn from it, go back and watch the film and just correct the mistakes."

He won't get another chance at Freeney any time soon. Nonetheless, Dunlap knows next time - whoever it is - keep your head up and your shoulders back when you punch. Offensive line coach Juan Castillo will make sure to get the message through.

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 10:23 a.m., August 21

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