As King Dunlap prepares to return to the starting lineup, the Eagles' offensive line knows that there's room for improvement. The Eagles have allowed 17 sacks on the season, tied for ninth in the league. In the running game, the Eagles' average yards per rush ranked first and third in the league in 2010 and 2011, respectively. This year, the Eagles rank 15th with 4.07 yards per rush.
So what needs to change?
"We just know that there's a lot that we need to go out and prove as an offensive line," said left guard Evan Mathis. "We didn't finish as strong as we needed to finish. There are small things here and there throughout the film. Last game was 80-something plays, I'm not going to sit here and tell you all the things we need to change. We know we need to change. We know what we need to do to fix them."
Last week's loss to the Detroit Lions, when the Eagles offense was unable to produce results in the final two drives of the game, serves as motivation.
"It leaves a sour taste in your mouth," said right guard Danny Watkins. "We've just got to do better. You can't really take your mind off of it when you're trying to relax because it's all you can think about. The first day back, it's the first thing you're getting hounded with. It's not how we wanted to go into the bye by any means.
"I think we just have to do a better job, that's it. I thought things we going pretty well. We let the Detroit game get away from us a little bit, but aside from that, we just need to focus in and do a better job."
For Dunlap, the return to the starting lineup is more than welcomed. After opening the season as the starting left tackle, Dunlap went down with a hamstring injury during the team's second game. While he was recovering, Demetress Bell held down the position, but now that Dunlap is 100 percent, he's regained the starting role.
"I'm glad to be back on the field with my guys," Dunlap said Wednesday. "I just try to go out there and just play. I'm happy to be back in the starting lineup and on the field playing and, like I said, whenever I'm on the field playing I couldn't be happier."
The Eagles, after all, did win both games that Dunlap started to open the season, so it shouldn't be a great surprise that he's returning to the position.
"I think it's going to help having King back," said quarterback Michael Vick. "He's a solid veteran football player who knows our scheme and knows how to play. I'm very glad to have him back out there and I'm pretty sure he'll do a great job."
Meanwhile, Bell, who was signed in the offseason as the presumptive starter at left tackle in place of Jason Peters, returns to a backup role.
"I just have to keep playing," said Bell, "keep learning, keep playing."
The same goes for the players in the starting lineup. With the Dunlap, Mathis, Watkins and right tackle Todd Herremans still adjusting to center Dallas Reynolds' style of play, there's still an adjustment period. The hope is that things will come together sooner rather than later.
"You need to build chemistry with the guys you play around," Watkins said. "Me and Todd have got really good chemistry. It's just one of those things that takes time. Dallas is doing a really good job, but we just have to learn his calls, his mentality, where he's taking us, where we're going. It's just going to take a little bit of time."
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