Previewing the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles: Backup Offensive Linemen

By Bryn Swartz

This is the fifth article in a series in which I will take a look at the expected backup positions on the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles.

As fans, we know who the starters will be for almost every position next year. Michael Vick is the quarterback, LeSean McCoy is the running back, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are the wide receivers. We know all that.

What we don’t know yet as fans is who will be the backups at most positions, so this ten-part series will highlight my predictions for the non-starters on the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles. (Click here to read the backup quarterbacks and backup running backs and the backup wide receivers and backup tight ends.)

Offensive Linemen:
The Eagles know that they can’t count on star left tackle Jason Peters being healthy for the 2012 season. His season ended when he ruptured his Achilles tendon, which caused the Eagles to sign free agent tackle Demetress Bell as Peters’ replacement. He’ll start at left tackle. The rest of the offensive line will be Evan Mathis at left guard, Jason Kelce at center, Danny Watkins at right guard, and Todd Herremans at right tackle. None of that will change. Mathis and Herremans are borderline Pro Bowlers and Kelce and Watkins are potentially going to be very good players one day.

It’s unknown how many offensive linemen the Eagles will keep on their roster. I’ll go with either nine or ten.

There are a few guarantees. Guard Brandon Washington, a sixth round draft pick who many expected to go in the second or third round, is making the team. I wouldn’t be surprised if he filled in for Mathis or Watkins because of an injury and plays well. He’s the sixth lineman.

Fifth round pick Dennis Kelly will also make the team. He’ll be a backup at tackle, and that makes seven linemen.

King Dunlap was signed to a one-year contract and will be on the team for the fifth straight season. He’s a good backup, although he may not have been on the team this season if Peters hadn’t been injured. He makes eight linemen.

You need a backup center so the competition comes down to center/guard Dallas Reynolds and center Steve Vallos. Reynolds has been on the practice squad for the Eagles since 2009, and Vallos has been in the NFL for for four seasons. I’ll pick Reynolds to make the team because he has three years of experience with Philly, plus he can play guard as well. That makes nine linemen.

I could see the Eagles keeping 10 linemen but I doubt it. If they did, it would be tackle Mike Gibson, who has been with Philadelphia and Seattle before. I also have guard Julian Vandervelde, a 2011 fifth round pick, not making the team in 2012. He didn’t play at all last season.

So that’s Bell, Mathis, Kelce, Watkins, Herremans, Washington, Kelly, Dunlap, and Reynolds making the team in 2012.

This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for Eagles Central and a featured NFL columnist on Rant Sports. Bryn has written more than 1000 articles in less than two years as a member of Rant Sports. His blog, Eagles Central, was named the 2010 Ballhyped Sports Blog of the Year. To read a portfolio of Bryn’s best work, click here.

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