Kiss him, or diss him? Embrace Shawn Andrews, or move on in another direction and consider anything he gives to the Eagles a bonus in 2009? It is a calculation a coaching staff has to make every year, with every player: How much do you rely on an individual from one year to the next?
In Andrews' case, the evidence is conflicting. He was on the verge of perennial Pro Bowl status prior to the 2008 season. But then his world unraveled to the point where a bout of depression kept Andrews out of training camp, and then shortly after he returned and the regular season started, Andrews suffered a back injury that would sideline him for the rest of the year.
Future in doubt.
So how much would the Eagles count on Andrews? That was a question asked many times -- here, especially -- since the 2008 season ended. How much would the Eagles stake their claim in a player who just never got it going last season, who many wonder if he will ever get it going again, and who walked out of the NovaCare Complex one day after the loss in Arizona with a suitcase full of question marks at his side?
Apparently, the Eagles are counting on him a great deal.
In the weekend that was for the Eagles, amid the flurry of things that went on around this team, words of encouragement spilled forth from Andrews' mouth. He spoke with enthusiasm about the season ahead. He said he was ready, physically and mentally, to again be a dominating offensive lineman. He welcomed in with great energy his older brother, Stacy, the team's top (and only, to date) target in free agency.
Andrews sounded like the Andrews of a couple of years ago: Loose, confident, excited about playing football.
"I'm really excited ... I'm doing everything I can possibly do to get back and be 100-plus percent to hit the ground running," said Andrews. "I want to pick up where I left off in a good manner."
So where does Andrews fit in? We're going to have to see about that. The possibilities are relatively limitless -- Andrews could play at either guard spot or at either tackle spot. Stacy Andrews is likely here to be the starter at right tackle, so an Andrews (Shawn, right guard), Andrews (Stacy, right tackle) combination is exciting. We're talking about 660 pounds of mass on that side, giving the Eagles a really strong, strong side.
Then again, Andrews could move over to the left side, and could even slide out to tackle. Hasn't that been what everyone expects from Andrews at some point, that he will move to the edge? A first-round draft pick in 2004, Andrews played right tackle collegiately at Arkansas and made a seamless transition to move inside at right guard.
But he has the athletic ability to play just about anywhere he wants on the line. He is that nimble, that strong, that football smart. Maybe the Eagles see him at the heir at left tackle -- especially with the team's situation there. Tra Thomas is shopping the market and reportedly visited Jacksonville. The Eagles have not exactly put up a stop sign to keep Thomas from finding another football home. They clearly have contingency plans should Thomas move on.
One of those considerations could be Andrews, and that would be fine with him.
"You know what, I really feel confident that I can (play left tackle), and in the past few weeks when I've been working out, I've taken sets at left tackle and I feel pretty strong," said Andrews. "Actually, believe it or not, I feel more natural putting my hand down on the left side ... I definitely feel comfortable."
Interesting stuff. The good news is that Andrews has his groove on thinking about the 2009 season. He is in a great frame of mind, his body is right -- Andrews said he is trying holistic medicine in the off-season -- and he will have his brother nearby. It all adds up to Andrews returrning to form.
Now, the Eagles are going to keep adding to their offensive line. This group of linemen in the draft is promising, and the Eagles would be foolish to ignore the front. They have to keep hammering away at the line of scrimmage, make it as good as it can be. Getting Shawn Andrews right is one of the most promising steps forward the team can take.
He is prepared for a re-birth, then.
"Looking forward to it, getting back with the guys and getting on the field again," he said. "It's been a long time."
*NEWS AND NOTES AND THIS AND THAT *
- Interesting move to bring in veteran cornerback Shawn Springs for a visit. He has played very well when healthy in his career, so his durability is a question mark. But Springs has size, experience and everything you want in a player who can help your cornerback depth. More on him if the Eagles come to contract terms. The visit is expected to last until late in the day on Wednesday.
- Had a good chat with Quintin Mikell on Tuesday, which you can view on The Eagles Report. His goal is making the Pro Bowl this season, which is realistic. Mikell had an outstanding season in 2008.
- Todd Herremans could play guard, could play tackle and knows that he has to be ready to do both. "We have to be as versatile as possible," he said. "I would love to play tackle again. If that is what they want, I will be ready for that. If I stay at guard, that's fine, too. As long as I'm on the field."
- *Eagles Live! *returns on Monday at 2 p.m. Please note the new time.