There may not be an Eagle with a bigger opportunity in Thursday night's second preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers than the biggest player on the roster. King Dunlap, the mammoth 6-foot-9 offensive tackle, is slated to get the start at right tackle for the Eagles, giving him the responsibility of protecting Michael Vick's blind side.
Right tackle is the position on the offensive line with the biggest question mark attached at the moment. During training camp, Dunlap, Austin Howard, Ryan Harris and Fenuki Tupou have all worked with the first team, while Evan Mathis has begun working with the second team. Meanwhile, Winston Justice, the incumbent starter, is continuing to work his way back from a knee injury.
Harris started the first game of the preseason at right tackle, but tweaked his back in the process, leaving Dunlap as the man to carry the mantle heading into Pittsburgh.
"I'm going to try to take full advantage of the opportunity and try to lock that spot down while I can," said Dunlap, who started five games for the Eagles in 2010 at both tackle positions. The Steelers "have a good group of guys up front, their whole defense really, they're always in the top five in defense. So it'll be a challenge for us to see where we're at physically and mentally."
Head coach Andy Reid acknowledged that Dunlap will be under the microscope.
"It's an opportunity, right?" Reid said. "What more can you ask for being a football player? You're given an opportunity to work with the ones so you go in and try to capture the moment."
Coming into training camp, there was a question as to whether Dunlap would fit in Howard Mudd's blocking scheme that is said to rely on quickness and athleticism, rather than brute strength. Reid referenced that stigma, joking that the towering Dunlap is actually "two Howard Mudd offensive linemen in one."
Still, it's been a whirlwind camp for Dunlap and the rest of the offensive line. As the Eagles look to find their right five players up front, there has been plenty of depth chart shuffling. Dunlap, for one, has worked with the first, second and third teams at right tackle, while also taking snaps at left tackle with the second and third teams.
"It's always good to work with different guys and see who can play next to who and that's all they were trying to figure out," said an unfazed Dunlap. "Getting continuity with a bunch of different guys, we have a bunch of new guys with a new scheme. Working with different guys next to each other on both sides of the ball, just getting continuity up front."
Thursday night, Dunlap will get his chance to make a case for a tight tackle position that is, without question, up for grabs. Who better to grab it than the tallest player on the roster?