The Philadelphia Eagles have had some rough luck recently with their offensive line. While all five starters played in 16 games last season, this year has brought nothing but bad news to one of the better units in the league. First, right tackle Lane Johnson was suspended for four games and then reserve lineman Matt Tobin went down in the final preseason game. Matters were made even worse in Week 1 when fill-in starter Allen Barbre and Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis suffered leg injuries.
Mathis has an MCL sprain which will likely keep him out several weeks and Barbre has a high-ankle sprain, which will probably cost him a month of action. On top of that, Tobin's injury is still somewhat of a mystery as far as the timetable for his return is concerned. With those three guys possibly facing a prolonged absence and Johnson suspended for three more games, the team will have to rely on backups Andrew Gardner, David Molk and Dennis Kelly.
While two of those reserves will now serve as starters (most likely Gardner and Kelly), the Eagles will need to add some depth to the roster behind its new starting five. The team has some options, as "final cuts" were just one week ago and the Eagles have two linemen on the practice squad. However, while the options are there, it's tough to feel enthusiastic about them.
Let's take a look at the linemen who might appeal to the Eagles:
Help From Within
Kevin Graf, OT/OG, Rookie: In my opinion, Graf is the best option. He is young and played well during the preseason. He was used at tackle and guard in the preseason and seemed to hold his own. A former USC Trojan, Graf is used to playing in big games and the team clearly liked him enough to put him on the practice squad. Graf would serve as the swing tackle if Kelly and Gardner are promoted to the starting lineup.
Josh Andrews, OG/C, Rookie: An undrafted free agent that lasted a lot longer in camp than a lot of people perceived, Andrews may make sense if the team decides to start Molk at left guard. Adding Andrews would allow the team to have a backup center if Kelce and Molk were to get injured. Andrews is still learning, but it may make sense to solve the problem from within.
Taking a Flier
Jeff Baca, OG, One Season: Here is an interesting option. Baca looks like a mix between Jason Kelce and Beau Allen and ran a 4.98 forty time at the Combine. An impressive athlete for his size (6-foot-3, 302 pounds), Baca played in four games for the Vikings last season. He was a sixth round pick in 2013 and still seems like a quality option based on his athletic ability and the Eagles love his type.
Reid Fragel, OT/OG, One Season: Along with having an awesome name, Fragel (ROCK!) is an extremely athletic human being. He is also 6-foot-8 and 308 pounds. He was cut by the Browns recently, but may be worth a flier due to his attributes.
Karim Barton, OG, Rookie: Barton was an undrafted free agent, who joined the Eagles in the off-season. He was waived during the first cuts and ended up getting picked up by the Browns. He made the Browns initial roster, but was waived a day later and signed to their practice squad. He knows the Eagles offense and could be reasonably signed off the practice squad. However, I doubt it.
Jon Halapio, OG, Rookie: This may be the wild card for a few reasons. For one, the Eagles got to see how he practiced this off-season in New England and they also played against him in the preseason. There is also the University of Florida connection with Howie Roseman, who clearly appreciates former Gators. A sixth round pick of the Patriots, he was good enough to get drafted and Chip Kelly could probably call up Bill Belchick and get the lowdown on him.
The Usual Suspects
Eric Winston, OT, Eight Seasons: Winston has the name and pedigree that everyone likes to talk about, but the truth is that he's been cut four times in the last three years. He went from a stable situation in Houston to year-long stops in Kansas City and Arizona. He was in camp with the Seahawks this summer and was let go during final cuts. The Eagles had the opportunity to sign him last season when they had worse depth and decided not to, so I'd assume he doesn't get a look here.
Doug Legursky, OG, Five Seasons: A former undrafted free agent out of Marshall, Legursky spent last season in Buffalo after five years with the Steelers. He can play center and guard and won a Super Bowl ring while in Pittsburgh. He has starting experience and has played in 62 games in his career.
Eben Britton, OG/OT, Five Seasons: The 2009 second round pick has mostly been considered a bust in the NFL. Despite playing well in the early parts of his career with the Jaguars and Britton has been converted from a right tackle to a guard with the Bears. He was cut after Chicago's final preseason game and is still on the street. A vested veteran, it is likely that he will get looks from teams moving forward. He has played in 50 games (34 starts) in his career.
Richie Incognito, OG: Just kidding.