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Offensive Line Should Rebound In 2013

INDIANAPOLIS -- After injuries crippled the Eagles' offensive line in 2012, there are plenty of reasons to expect much different results in 2013.

First, the Eagles will get All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters back on the field. Peters missed all of the 2012 season with an Achilles injury. General manager Howie Roseman expressed confidence that Peters' play will once again be at an All-Pro level.

"There's no doubt about it. For the lack of a better term, he's a freak. He's able to do things not many people on this earth are able to do," Roseman said. "For us, it's exciting to get that kind of talent back."

In addition to Peters, the Eagles are welcoming the return of center Jason Kelce and tackle Todd Herremans. Kelce and Herremans also had their seasons cut short due to injury. Of course, the offensive line has to adjust to playing in head coach Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense. Watching the film from last season, Kelly believes he has players who can make the adjustment.

"You've got to move. You've got to be able to play in space against some really, really good defensive linemen in this league," Kelly said. "There are guys on our current roster who I'm really excited to work with."

Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long knows what to expect playing in Kelly's offense and has admitted to scouting the Eagles' roster in hopes that he'll re-unite with Kelly in Philadelphia.

"He's a great coach, a player's coach. He's somebody who has a lot of consistency in his weeks, in his gameplan," Long said. "I'll be happy to play for him and I'm sure the guys that are there are happy to play for him."

Kelly fortified his staff with offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, who coached at the University of Alabama the past two seasons. Barrett Jones, who won the Rimington Award as the nation's best center, praised Stoutland's work.

"He taught me so much about the game. It's also nice to have a guy who can vouch for you in an NFL locker room," Jones said. "It worked out well for him. I always told him he was two-for-two. He just came and got two National Championships and bailed on us."

Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker added that Stoutland's message to the line was simply "make them fear you" by being aggressive off the snap.

In addition to the players on the current roster, the Eagles have a lot of flexibility owning eight total draft picks including the No. 4 overall selection with a deep offensive line class. One of the top prospects is the third member of Alabama's offensive line that is here at the NFL Combine in guard Chance Warmack. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said that Warmack should be in consideration for the No. 1 overall pick. Would the Eagles consider using the No. 4 pick on a guard? No guard has been selected in the top 10 since Chris Naeole was drafted with the 10th pick in 1997.

"You're talking about a heck of a player there, a difference-maker and for us we want to make sure we're evaluating the player and not downgrading them for the particular position they are playing," Roseman said of Warmack. "We're sticking to our definitions of the player and grading them appropriately. We want to take the best player."

The Eagles have plenty of options to make the offensive line an area of strength in 2013.

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