It took just six plays of left tackle Demetress Bell against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night for offensive line coach Howard Mudd to demote Bell to the second team.
Bell has been replaced by King Dunlap, who the Eagles would likely have cut in the offseason had Pro Bowl starter Jason Peters not suffered a devastating Achilles rupture in an offseason training program.
Dunlap took reps with the first team at practice on Saturday morning and will continue to start at left tackle when the Eagles go live in the afternoon practice.
Bell was not told about his demotion to second team and said that he did not think that his six-play performance against the Steelers was enough to warrant a demotion.
After all, Bell was highly sought after by the Eagles when Peters ruptured his Achilles in March. The veteran free agent left tackle signed a five-year deal with the team in April, although only the first year of the contract is guaranteed in terms of salary.
Dunlap has been with the Eagles since he was drafted in the seventh round in 2008. He has been a key backup over the past two seasons, starting a total of seven games at left tackle, left guard, and right tackle. He says left tackle is his preferred position because he has played the most there and because he is left handed.
“Dunlap came back here under the assumption that he’d have the opportunity to compete,” head coach Andy Reid said. “He’s done well, and he’ll get an opportunity. There’s not a lot of separation between those guys right at this minute, so King deserves that opportunity.”
However, his massive 6’9 frame is not something that Mudd usually looks for in linemen, and it’s safe to say that he was only re-signed by the team because Peters was injured.
I predict that the Eagles will still open the season with Bell as the starter. Mudd likes to play around with the depth on his offensive line, and the demotion of Bell could change pretty quickly.
This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for the Philadelphia Eagles 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.