The Eagles' injury woes on the offensive line continued Wednesday with the announcement that right tackle Todd Herremans has been placed on season-ending injured reserve after suffering a dislocated bone in his right foot with some resulting ligament damage during the Eagles' 28-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder said the injury is fairly rare sports, but expects that Herremans will have no trouble being ready for next summer's Training Camp.
The Eagles have now lost three of their projected starting offensive linemen, as Herremans joins center Jason Kelce, who suffered a torn ACL in Week 2, and left tackle Jason Peters, who ruptured his Achilles in the offseason. Peters, though, still has an outside chance of playing this season as the Eagles have three weeks to decide whether to activate him from the reserve/non-football injury list. In addition to those three, right guard Danny Watkins has also missed the last two games with an ankle injury, leaving left guard Evan Mathis as the lone remaining healthy first-teamer on the offensive line.
With Herremans on injured reserve, the Eagles activated interior offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde from the practice squad. A fifth-round pick in 2011, Vandervelde spent his entire rookie season on the Eagles' active roster, but only appeared in one game. He initially made the Eagles' roster again following the preseason, but was released as the final roster move after the Eagles traded for safety David Sims. From there, Vandervelde was signed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' active roster, before he was then assigned to their practice squad and then was eventually released. He then came back to the Eagles as a member of the practice squad on October 2.
"It's been a rollercoaster ride and this has always been the goal, to get back to active roster, particularly to get back here in Philadelphia on the active roster," said Vandervelde. "The hard work's paid off, but now it can't stop. I have to keep working, keep progressing, do whatever my job is, whatever they ask of me, from week to week, from day to day. That's what I have to do.
"It's always tough. These are your friends, these are your brothers. You don't wish ill will on any of them regardless of your own situation or what it does for you. You see an offensive line like this that's peppered with injuries, it hurts the continuity of the offensive line and each of us feeling that for the other guy, feeling their sympathies, it takes a little bit of a toll on you but we have to keep pressing forward."
Vandervelde, 6-2, 300, is a versatile interior lineman who specializes at guard, though he took center reps throughout the preseason. The Eagles will slide King Dunlap to right tackle and allow Demetress Bell to play his natural left tackle position. Rookie Dennis Kelly is also a tackle by trade, though he has played guard in the absence of Watkins the last two weeks. Center Matt Tennant and tackle/guard Nate Menkin are the other offensive linemen on the roster.
For Herremans, the injury is a particularly difficult blow as the veteran has emerged as a team leader and is one of the longest tenured Eagles as an eighth-year player who was originally drafted by the team in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Herremans started his 100th game for the Eagles against the Saints, and has not missed a game since the 2009 season.
"He's definitely the leader on the O-line," said Kelly of Herremans. "He's one of the leaders of the team. So, when you lose any leader of the position or the team, it is going to hurt, but that's why we have to have guys step up and go play."
Now, the focus for the makeshift offensive line will be on protecting a quarterback in Michael Vick who was sacked seven times last week against the Saints.
"I've just got to believe in the guys in front of me and do whatever it takes to get the ball out whether I've got to slide or move, break contain," said Vick. "Regardless, I just have to continue to maintain trust in them. That's part of my job as a quarterback and I have to keep believing. Keep believing. Stay optimistic. Just keep playing the game and try to block out everything else."
Defensive tackle Frank Trotter, who was released from the practice squad earlier in the day to make room for Phillip Thomas, was re-signed to the practice squad, taking Vandervelde's spot.
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