FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- At the start of Training Camp, no one expected King Dunlap to supplant Demetress Bell as the team's left tackle in the post-Jason-Peters Eagles offense. But Dunlap was inserted into the "starting lineup" when the team returned to Training Camp following the first preseason game. After nine days wearing the first-team label, Dunlap got his first game action as a starting left tackle Monday night against the New England Patriots. How did he fare? Let's examine the results.
Dunlap played the entirety of the first half with the starting offense, seeing 30 plays in the process. Of those, 23 were called passing plays, during which Dunlap went one-on-one with the likes of Patriots first-round pick Chandler Jones, Jermaine Cunningham and Jake Bequette. During those 23 plays in pass protection, Dunlap was impressive, perhaps the most impressive of any member of the offensive line in the first half. He allowed one (arguably late) quarterback hit, one quarterback hurry and committed one false start penalty. Some of those passing plays were quick three-step drops or play action, but Dunlap handled the job with aplomb.
"I don't know. I have to look at the film. I felt like I had a decent game, but you never know until you watch the film," said Dunlap. "Our starting quarterback getting hurt is on all five of us, not one individual. We have to keep him healthy."
Dunlap was rarely, if ever, given double-team help and was particularly impressive in his handling of Jones, who was coming off an impressive debut in the Patriots' first preseason game.
"We chipped a couple times, but I know being a left tackle, we get a lot of one-on-ones, especially here, both tackles," Dunlap said. "We like getting guys downfield and getting guys open, and we're coached to block our man, so one-on-one, that's what we do.
Of the seven running plays the Eagles called with Bell in the game, only two went to the left of the center. Those two runs both came on the first series and gained a total of eight yards. It's fair to say that Dunlap is no Peters, but it appears the Eagles can trust Dunlap, who has started seven games for the Eagles over the last two seasons, to handle the job.
"King did well I think," said center Jason Kelce. "It's hard for me to tell before I watch the film, but I didn't hear too many people running free from that side at least."
Bell replaced Dunlap to open the second half and spent one series with the first-team offense – an 80-yard touchdown drive. But Bell allowed intermittent pressure throughout the rest of the second half, his only extensive playing time of the preseason since the first-team offense played only six plays in the first preseason game.
"I tried to give them equal opportunity," head coach Andy Reid said after the game. "They both had a chance. I'm going to go back and look at it. I think they both did a halfway decent job ... They had a couple penalties, I'm not real happy about that."
For Dunlap, the opportunity to further his case to remain the starting left tackle caused no change to his normal approach. The only difference is now there just may be a spot open for the big man.
"I had the same mentality I've had for the past couple years, coming in, working hard. I've always worked to be the starter," Dunlap said. "That's why everybody plays, they want to be a starter, be the first guy out there. Same mentality, work hard, open holes, block for the quarterback and running backs and try to keep the offense rolling."
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