All eyes will be on Landover, Md. on Monday night when the Eagles take the field against the Redskins in the national spotlight. While much of the talk surrounding the Eagles has been about how Michael Vick will look in Chip Kelly's new offensive system, fans will also get their first glimpse of how LeSean McCoy performs behind a fully healthy group upfront.
"With a healthy offensive line that you're familiar with, each week you kind of see the same type of blocks where you figure guys out and you know in the back of your mind that 'I know he's capable of making that block,'" McCoy told reporters after Thursday's practice. "With a new guy in there, it's like 'Alright, he practiced pretty well, hopefully he'll get it done.'"
Eagles fans know the story of 2012, when injuries caused a game of musical chairs to be played along the offensive line. Though it is the comeback for Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III that will be grabbing most of the headlines, the Eagles will also have one of their best offensive players returning, as Jason Peters returns for his first regular season game since January of 2012 due to an Achilles injury. With Peters, guard Todd Herremans and center Jason Kelce all returning from season-ending injuries, McCoy is expecting big things from the Eagles rushing attack.
"Jason Peters is probably one of the best offensive linemen in the league, hands down," McCoy said. "Having him back, you can add on about 700 (rushing) yards … Kelce, people don't understand that the quarterback and the center are the generals of the offense, so he directs his troops to block whoever, so having him back is big. So I look forward to having a big year, as long as everyone is healthy."
Peters isn't worried about his previous injury and said that he won't alter his play at all.
"It's been a long time coming and a lot of hard work has been put in, and I can't wait for Monday," Peters said. "I don't even think about (the injury). It doesn't bother me. I'm out there and I'm doing the same things that I used to do. … As far as trust, it would have to nag you to not trust it, and it doesn't nag me, so I'm 100 percent ready."
With Kelly at the helm, the Eagles will seemingly be running at a quicker pace than ever before. McCoy and Peters both see the positives of the new system, and though it may take some time to adjust to, opposing defenses will have a greater challenge of trying to stop it.
"With this type of offense, I don't think you need tons of carries to get a lot of yards rushing," McCoy said. "We're going to be moving so fast at a high pace where you don't give the (opponent) enough time to set their defense. They don't get their correct calls, so sometimes you might get guys out of line and maybe some missed assignments due to guys not getting the right calls. In this offense, all you need is a crease, and with the backs we have, we can hit it and get going."
"I just have to adjust as far as the tempo of it," Peters explained. "Usually with the offenses in the past, I'm down the field and doing draws and stuff like that. Now it's more up-tempo and if you have to run a play where you're down-field, you have to run back to the line of scrimmage to run another play, so I just have to adjust to that … I like the physical nature of it. There's a lot of running, a lot of read-option, where I'm blocking down and blocking out, so I like it."
As Peters and McCoy get set to start a new era of Eagles football, each believes that a stable offensive line has the potential to take this team a long way.
"We're definitely going to be better than we were last year," said Peters. "We were banged up, (we had) a lot of missing pieces on the offensive line, and a lot of people subbed in and moved around, but now we're all back together."
"The best thing from the offensive standpoint is that everybody's healthy," said McCoy. "We're ready to roll. We've been practicing and practicing. … Now it's time to put everything as one - offense, defense, and special teams. … It's a division game and it's also the first game, so we're definitely excited. It's Coach Kelly's first professional NFL game, and we're going to make sure that we do it the right way."
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