You knew something was going to happen. Howie Roseman isn't sitting around. He and Andy Reid are working it, and they did it again on Friday by acquiring offensive guard Reggie Wells from Arizona for an undisclosed draft pick. Wells had started 90 straight games for the Cardinals since the end of the 2003 season, and was deemed expendable by them after they acquired Alan Faneca in the off-season.
It was the highlight move of the day on Friday, one that has serious implications. Clearly, the Eagles want to challenge the guard positions. Wells has started 78 of those 90 games at left guard and has also played right tackle (10 games) and left tackle (2 games). Todd Herremans is the left guard here, healthy after battling a foot injury that bothered him since last year.
At right guard, the Eagles have Stacy Andrews and they have Nick Cole and they have Max Jean-Gilles and now they have Wells to work in there as well. Wells played at right guard this summer for the Cardinals.
Wells could very well end up a starter here although it is early to commit to that. Safe to say, the Eagles didn't bring him in to watch the grass grow at Lincoln Financial Field. Wells is known to be an excellent run blocker and he was good enough in all phases of his game to be a staple along the Arizona offensive line for many years.
It is an outstanding move, really, to bring in an experienced, versatile offensive lineman at this stage of the game. The Eagles didn't address the offensive line in the draft and then encountered some question marks in training camp: Herremans was given some down time to ensure his foot was not taking an unneccessary pounding, center Jamaal Jackson was working his way back from a knee injury and Andrews couldn't nail down, without dispute, the right guard position.
Now the Eagles have options. Talented options. Herremans is good to go and raring to roll next Sunday. Jackson says he is 99.9 percent certain he will start against the Packers. Wells adds competition at every position, but it doesn't take a genius to expect him to push for time at right guard.
Yeah, continuity is a question mark. No doubt about it. The Eagles have very little time to get their pieces in place, but having Wells makes a big, big difference here. You look at the experienced depth and it's really unlike anything the Eagles have had: Wells, Andrews, Jean-Gilles and Cole have substantial career profiles. The Eagles have great depth up front.
Now the job is to get everyone on the same page and kick some booty.
On a day when the Eagles reduced the roster, the acquisition of Wells is the biggie. Otherwise, there were no surprises as the Eagles narrowed their roster on Friday afternoon: The expected names were on the list, and those young men deserve so much credit for the effort they provided throughout these many weeks.
One name is worth discussing at more length, though: Defensive end Victor Abiamiri, sidelined after undergoing microfracture surgery in the off-season is on the team's Reserve/PUP list, meaning he misses the first six weeks of the season and then the Eagles have to decide to activate him, send him to season-ending Injured Reserve or waive him prior to week nine.
It is a curious case, a star-crossed case, as Abiamiri, a former second-round draft (in 2007) battles another injury that has kept him off the field, and not allowed him to display his considerable football talent. He has had wrist, foot, knee and just about any other ailment you can think a football player can suffer. Abiamiri has played in 29 games over three seasons, and you wonder how much more he could have shown the coaches had the injuries not slowed him down.
The thrust of this team's off-season, from a defensive, was the line of scrimmage. How could the Eagles compete with the upper-echelon teams in the NFL after being pushed around in the final two games of the season along the front seven? They knew Stewart Bradley's return would be a plus. And they knew they needed to get better up front. They also knew that Abiamiri had a knee that kept blowing up on him last year, and that he would need surgery that is often associated in sports with ending a career.
So you know about the moves the Eagles made. They traded for Darryl Tapp. They drafted Brandon Graham and Daniel Te'o-Nesheim. All three figure to factor into the mix starting next Sunday when Green Bay comes to town.
Abiamiri? He has worked on the side throughout the days and weeks of spring OTAs and training camp and now, as the team is back at the NovaCare Complex. The assumption here was that Abiamiri would spend the year on IR, that the Eagles would give him a full year to rehab and recover and see what he could do in 2011.
Maybe that is eventually what will happen. But Abiamiri now has a tangible goal, and that is to be right and ready after six weeks. By the time the end of October rolls around, he hopes, maybe Abiamiri will be a part of the defensive picture again.
It makes all kinds of sense to keep Abiamiri alive for the season. Who knows if the Eagles suffer an injury up front? Who knows what kind of shot in the arm a healthy Abiamiri could be provide in the middle of the season for the defense? At his best, Abiamiri is stout enough to play end and quick enough to provide a pass rush from the tackle spot. He is a good football player who has had his career sidetracked by injuries.
Of the moves the Eagles made on Friday, this is the one that sticks out the most. Good luck to each of the players the Eagles released. Some of them will find homes in the league. Some of them may never dress in an NFL uniform again.
Releasing J.J. Arrington means the Eagles will receive from Denver a 2011 conditional draft pick (reported to be a sixth-round selection) in the trade that sent linebacker Joe Mays to the Broncos. One or two of the players (running back Martell Mallett? defensive end Pennel Egboh? defensive tackle Boo Robinson?) may be worth bringing back to the practice squad.
In the meantime, the Eagles kept Abiamiri's season alive. He looks great and is making progress. He has yet to practice. He won't have that chance until after Week 6 of the regular season. By then, of course, we will know how the new-look line performs and whether Abiamiri can get his injury-riddled career back on track.