Newly-signed Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Wade Smith just might be starting on the offensive line when the team faces the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night. According to Smith, the veteran was "in and out" with the first team at left guard during Friday's practice.
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly even had high praise for Smith in his pre-practice press conference.
If we're going to play Wade [Smith], I think dealing with Wade the last two or three days, I think he's got a really good grasp of what we're trying to do. He's a highly intelligent football player and pleasantly surprised when you sit down and visit with him and talk football with him. He's got a really good knowledge of what we're doing.
That said, it would be a little surprising to see Smith get the start at left guard. Smith only signed with the team on Tuesday afternoon. He even admitted he's not where he wants to be mentally. Plus he doesn't have the benefit of experience in the Eagles scheme as do backups Dennis Kelly and Andrew Gardner. Smith, on the other hand, does have way more game experience than Kelly and Gardner combined. In his 10-year NFL career, Smith has recorded 98 starts and has appeared in 138 games.
Smith starting at left guard would likely relegate Dennis Kelly, who was kept inactive last week, to the bench. Andrew Gardner would still get the start at right tackle. Or maybe the Eagles would put Kelly out at right tackle and bench Gardner? I think that's less likely given the fact they kept Gardner active over Kelly against the Jaguars. Also the fact that Kelly has been playing more often at guard.
The Eagles' makeshift offensive line will have their work cut out for them against the Colts. The good news for Philadelphia is that starting left tackle Jason Peters, center Jason Kelce, and right guard Todd Herremans remain in place. The bad news is that the injuries to Evan Mathis and Allen Barbre (plus the suspension of Lane Johnson) have the Eagles trying to figure out what their best backup plan is.