Dunlap looks impressive for Eagles

Posted: August 22, 2012

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Don't look for a change at left tackle Wednesday when the Eagles return to practice at the NovaCare Complex.

King Dunlap, who replaced Demetress Bell as the starter there last week after the Eagles' first preseason game against the Steelers, turned in a solid performance in his two quarters of work Monday night against the Patriots.

Offensive-line coach Howard Mudd often can be a hard guy to please. But it will be difficult for him to find much fault with the way Dunlap played when he reviews the tape.

Granted, the 6-9, 330-pounder spent all but two of the 28 plays in the first half he was in for battling backups, as Patriots coach Bill Belichick gave most of his starters the night off in the Eagles' 27-17 win. But he blocked all of the people he was assigned to block, which included first-round defensive end Chandler Jones (seven plays), backup end Jake Bequette (four plays), backup linebackers Jermaine Cunningham (five plays) and Trevor Scott (three plays) and starting right end Brandon Deadrick (two plays).

"I thought I played decent, but you always want to do better than decent. I gotta look at the film," Dunlap said.

"I tried to give them equal opportunities tonight," coach Andy Reid said of Dunlap and Bell. "I thought both did a halfway decent job. I think both had a penalty, and I wasn't happy about that."

Eagles Pro Bowl defensive end Trent Cole, who works against Dunlap in practice, said this week Dunlap reminded him of the Eagles' former Pro Bowl left tackle, Tra Thomas.

"They're two different styles of players, but King reminds me of him," Cole said. "He's getting better. He's been getting better every single year. He's come a long way. He's become a good player."

The Eagles signed Bell in early April, less than a week after their All-Pro left tackle, Jason Peters, ruptured his right Achilles' tendon. They re-signed Dunlap shortly after that.

Bell was brought in to replace Peters, and Dunlap, who has only seven career starts, was brought back to back up Bell and starting right tackle Todd Herremans.

But Bell has struggled to master Mudd's blocking technique and was benched after the Steelers game, even though he was in the game for only six plays.

Now, the starting job is Dunlap's to lose, and he definitely didn't lose it Monday night. In fact, he probably even bought himself a little breathing room.

The Eagles attempted 19 passes in the first half and Dunlap allowed pressure on only one of them. That was early in the second quarter, when Cunningham got a step on him on an outside rush and got pressure on quarterback Nick Foles, who threw an incompletion to DeSean Jackson.

But a defensive holding call negated the play.

Cunningham also was the guy who put the first-quarter lick on Michael Vick that knocked him out of the game with a rib injury. But he was not Dunlap's assignment on the play.

"Our quarterback got hurt. That's on all of us, not just one guy," Dunlap said.

He did a good job out on an island riding Patriots pass rushers to the outside and handling their inside counter moves. His second-quarter block on Bequette was instrumental in opening a rush lane for Foles on his 24-yard run.

Contact Paul Domowitch at pdomo@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @Pdomo.


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