This is the next installment in our series of 12 positions in 12 days previewing the upcoming Eagles training camp. Rookie and selected vets report to Lehigh July 26th and each day leading up to that date we will bring you a preview of a different position battle.
Considering the amount of money and first round picks the Eagles have spent at this one position, it really had better be one of the best in the NFL. Is it? We take on the offensive tackles next.
Shawn Andrews, King Dunlap, Jason Peters, Winston Justice, Chris Patrick, Fenuki Tupou.
After what they gave up in terms of cash and picks for Jason Peters, he will be the starting LT for this team. As long as Shawn Andrews is able to play, he'll be the starting RT after Andy Reid announced he would be moving from the RG spot he's played since he came into the NFL.
Andrews & Peters give the Eagles arguably the most talented pair of starting OTs in the NFL, however both come with questions. For Andrews, it's his mental state. When he's on the field, Andrews has been dominant and multiple time pro bowler... but he missed all of last season after being diagnosed with depression and having back surgery. While his back is healed and he says he's feeling much better mentally, his head will likely always be a cause for concern. The fact is, when a guy's knee is hurt we see him limp and it shows up on the injury report... when his mental state is a problem, we don't know until he mysteriously doesn't show up for camp... So while all appears well with Andrews right now, we can never be entirely certain how he really feels. The hope is now that he's in treatment and his brother is in town his mental state will never regress to the point it did before last season.
As for Jason Peters, two years ago he looked like the most dominant LT in football and was a deserving All Pro & Pro Bowler. While he also made the pro bowl last year, he wasn't quite as dominant after holding out of training camp in a contract dispute. While Peters didn't struggle nearly as much a certain "stat" would have you believe, he certainly didn't play up to his 2007 form. Now that he's been paid handsomely and he'll be in training camp, he'll hopefully be back to his dominant self.
Jason Peters was acquired in a trade from the Buffalo Bills.
Fenuki Tupou was drafted in the 5th round. He'll probably play OG for the Eagles, but he's listed as an OT for now...
What to watch for
Despite the fact that the starting positions aren't much of a mystery, this should actually be an interesting position to watch in camp. The two main storylines will be how Jason Peters fits into the Eagles' system and how Shawn Andrews handles his move from RG to RT. RT isn't a new position for Andrews since he played there in college, but it's new for him in the NFL having only played a few times at the position.
The fight for backup spots should be intruiging to watch as well. This year surely has to be Winston Justice's last shot. Can he finally play anywhere near the potential he had as a second round pick? King Dunlap is a giant and his sheer size was enough to make the Eagles store him on IR last season to see if he continues to progress. It will be interesting to see the progress he's made.
Previous position previews