The first step in replenishing the roster came on Monday when the Eagles signed fullback Owen Schmitt and promoted tight end/h-back/fullback Garrett Mills from the practice squad. The two of them essentially replace fullback Leonard Weaver, out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The center spot? The Eagles will go with Mike McGlynn as the offensive line shuffles its pieces again.
Look for the Eagles to have some creative Xs and O's forthcoming against Detroit and beyond. Replacing Weaver with Schmitt, a former star at West Virginia who played with Seattle, is not as simple as a one-for-one deal. Schmitt, in fact, was a reason the Seahawks allowed Weaver to enter free agency a couple of years ago. Now he replaces Weaver in Philadelphia.
The role of the fullback position has been a mixed bag for the Eagles over the years in the Andy Reid era. Until Weaver arrived last year, the fullback played a relatively small percentage of the time. The Eagles used a single-back set, with three wide receivers, and they used it effectively. This has never been what you would call a smash-mouth offensive attack.
A fullback here is a bit player, at least he was until Weaver signed. Last year, Weaver was a Pro Bowl player. He ran the ball out of the one-back set. He brought some thunder in short-yardage situations. And he could catch a pass here and there and he was a capable blocker in both the run game and the passing game.
I'm not sure what the coaches have in mind now. Schmitt is more of a masher than an athletic player. He is a tough guy and he is going to have to play that role in the running game.
Mills is an interesting player. He is an athletic pass-catching tight end who really doesn't have ideal size for a tight end but who can move around the formation and catch passes. How much the Eagles use him, well, I guess we will find out very soon.
Don't fool yourself into thinking that Weaver is an easy player to replace. He was the best fullback the Eagles have had in many years, a position manned by the likes of Jon Ritchie, Thomas Tapeh, Josh Parry and others in Reid's years here. The Eagles didn't make the position a huge priority, it seems until Weaver signed a one-year contract as an unrestricted free agent prior to 2009 and then rewarded Weaver with a contract that reportedly made him the highest-paid fullback in league history in this past off-season.
Now, of course, we all pray that Weaver's "severe" knee injury heals sufficiently and that he can return next season and be a force.
The offensive line remains a work in progress. Continuity is out the window at this point. The Eagles have to bank on McGlynn to step up and be a durable player at center. Reggie Wells, inactive on Sunday, has to be a factor. Truly, Juan Castillo has a lot on his hands right now.
As far as the status of Kevin Kolb and Stewart Bradley, there is nothing new to report. Neither can practice this week. Reid will provide an update on Wednesday. Michael Vick takes first-team reps at quarterback and Omar Gaither steps up at middle linebacker.
This is a critical point in time, the first of many in the 2010 season. I've been around long to enough that it is impossible to predict what happens next. I do know one thing: Leadership will manifest itself at a time like this. We are going to learn how much adversity the Eagles can overcome at an extremely early point during the year.
*NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT *
The criticism of how the Eagles handled the Bradley and Kolb concussions is misguided. The NFLPA made a statement on Monday backing the Eagles' methods, so the criticism is moot and is delivered with a blind eye. Head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder is a leading advocate in the country on how to properly handle concussions. He and his staff followed the correct procedures. The critics have this one wrong.
- There were six cornerbacks active on Sunday, an unusual mix on a game day. I wonder how the Eagles will adjust that number, especially with both Jorrick Calvin and Trevard Lindley playing minimal roles against Green Bay.
- I am all with Reid on his statement Monday, loud and clear, that if Kolb is healthy he is the starting quarterback here. Vick understands his role, Kolb understands his and the locker room is behind Kolb. At the same time, kudos to Vick for the way he played and rallied his team on Sunday. More to come should Vick play in Detroit.
- How does the game plan change with Shaun Hill at quarterback for Detroit on Sunday? I don't know, but the defense knows that wide receiver Calvin Johnson is a stud of studs, and they can't leave him in too much one-on-one coverage. He is so big and strong and goes up for the ball to make big catches.
- Overlooked in the loss was a two-of-three performance by the Eagles in the red zone. On the touchdown that they missed, Vick had an opportunity to get the score with a run or a different choice of a throw, but his pass for DeSean Jackson was batted down. Not a bad job in a critical area to watch for this offense.
- Jackson is featured on an ESPN commercial with the football crew during which he takes out the trash and the paper boy throws the newspaper over Jackson's head and he fails to catch it, drawing criticism from Cris Carter. Says Jackson, throwing his hands in the air: "Man, that was a bad pass." Thumbs up on that commericial. It's much better than the Foot Locker commercial that features Jackson.