As Howard Mudd continues to look for the right fit along the offensive line, the tweaking of the five players protecting Michael Vick continues in practice. Saturday, Ryan Harris, who signed with the Eagles as a free agent from the Denver Broncos, took the first-team snaps at right tackle. Friday, Fenuki Tupou was the first-team right tackle, a position that has also been filled this camp by Austin Howard and King Dunlap.
And that's not all. While Danny Watkins has been thrust into the position of starting right guard at the moment, the role was filled by Mike McGlynn, A.Q. Shipley and Julian Vandervelde before Watkins arrived. Meanwhile, Jason Kelce has continued to mix in steadily with the starting offense at center, rotating with Jamaal Jackson.
"It's all about opportunities and everybody will get some opportunities," said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. "Some will get more than others. We're mixing and matching just a little bit to give everybody an opportunity to show what they have and then there'll come a time when the unit working as a group will become important. The same five guys working together at some point.
"At some point it's critical that that line work as a unit for rep after rep after rep. What the key is, is evaluating and getting the five best guys on the field, and then repping the top eight and nine guys. Very important."
As for Harris, the newest to carry the right tackle mantle, Mornhinweg said the new Eagle has acclimated himself well to the system.
"He's been impressive, it's just been a couple of days here, but I will tell you he's an impressive young man. You can tell that he has experience and that he's played at a high level before. He's quick, he's athletic, and he's strong. He's also very smart and it appears like he's a natural football player, so he came in and picked it up very quickly. Much quicker than I expected, much quicker than normal, I suppose. He's been impressive so far, and again, we're trying to find who the best guys are, at the right spots, on the offensive line because we have multiple players who can play several different spots. So that will be important as we go ahead."
Meanwhile, from Mornhinweg's perspective, the rookies, specifically Watkins and Kelce, have been impressive.
"Outstanding," said Mornhinweg of Watkins. "He's right in the middle of a learning curve. He has a lot of work ahead of him to be able to go out into a game and function at a high level. But for the first couple of days he's been outstanding."
"Kelce is outstanding mentally for a young man. We talked briefly before, it's quite a challenge for first year rookies with the situation with this year and they're taking it very seriously. It's all about business. Football 24/7."
That around-the-clock training will continue throughout this preseason while Mornhinweg, Mudd and Andy Reid try to settle on a starting five up front. For now, it's still a work in progress.