Eagles Notes: Bell likely to start at left tackle for Eagles

Demetress Bell replaced left tackle King Dunlap when he was injured, but Dunlap is back.
Demetress Bell replaced left tackle King Dunlap when he was injured, but Dunlap is back. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 04, 2012

Demetress Bell said that he took most of the first-team snaps during Eagles practice Wednesday, an indication that he will start at left tackle Sunday against Pittsburgh even though King Dunlap returned.

"We'll have to see what tomorrow is," Bell said.

Earlier, Andy Reid did not name Dunlap as his starter even though two weeks ago when the tackle was first injured, the Eagles coach said the job was still Dunlap's.

"I'll cross that bridge when we get there," Reid said before practice. "But I'm glad to have King back. I just want to see how he's doing."

Dunlap, who suffered a strained hamstring against Baltimore on Sept. 16, was a full participant in practice. Bell intimated that Dunlap, aside from playing some left tackle, also took snaps at right guard with Danny Watkins sidelined by a chest bruise.

Reid did not mention Watkins' injury on Monday or Wednesday, but the guard had suffered it Sunday against New York. Watkins was suited up at the start of practice but was held out.

Dunlap started one game at left guard last season, and his versatility was one reason the Eagles brought him back. Another reason was the possibility that Bell could not ably replace Jason Peters, which is how it stood at the start of the season.

Bell wasn't even active for the opener. But he dressed the following week, jumped in for the injured Dunlap against Baltimore, and, despite some difficult moments against Arizona and the Giants, is progressing, according to Reid.

The coach said that Bell "played very well" in the Eagles' 19-17 win over the Giants on Sunday night.

There were several plays in which the tackle appeared to get beaten or missed his assignment - for instance, when defensive end Osi Umenyiora raced into the backfield and forced quarterback Michael Vick to scramble 18 yards.

"The one where he got edged there was supposed to be a chip [block] on that from the tight end," Reid explained.

Both Bell and Reid said that he settled down after the first quarter.

"You could tell [the Giants] got frustrated," Reid said. "They went from all of a sudden the bull rush . . . and he hunkered down and held his own."

The Eagles, who are paying Bell $3.15 million in base salary this season, would prefer that he remain the starter. All signs suggest that will be the case in Pittsburgh.

Peters is healing

As for Peters, Reid once again did not rule him out for a possible return this season. The all-pro tackle ruptured his right Achilles tendon in March and is on the reserve non-football injury (NFI) list.

"He's healing fast," Reid said. "He's making progress."

There is a three-week window from Week 6 to 9 in which players on the NFI list may resume practicing. At the end of the period, teams must either activate the player or place him on injured reserve.

Though an IR designation once ended a player's season, a new league rule allows teams to have one player on short-term IR. If the Eagles so choose, they can move Peters from NFI to short-term IR, in which case he can practice in six weeks and be activated two weeks later.

"It's a long stretch," Reid said. "But we haven't ruled him out."

Mike Patterson, who had offseason brain surgery, is also on the NFI list. Reid said he had no update on the defensive tackle's condition and whether he would play this season.

Extra points

Along with Watkins, linebacker Akeem Jordan (hamstring) and defensive tackle Derek Landri (knee inflammation) did not practice. Jamar Chaney filled in for Jordan at weakside linebacker on Sunday. Reid said that Jordan was close to getting healthy. . . . Wide receiver Riley Cooper (collarbone) practiced but still has to feel comfortable, Reid said, before he can play in his first game. . . . Safety Colt Anderson, who missed Sunday's game because of knee inflammation, also returned to practice. . . . Getting Jordan, Cooper, and Anderson back should help the Eagles' special-teams units, which have struggled. Linebacker Adrian Moten, who was added to the roster Tuesday after the Eagles cut linebacker Brian Rolle, said that he has to make "a killing on special teams."

Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.