Eagles Notes: King Dunlap regains starting job at tackle for Eagles

The Eagles offensive line has taken much of the blame for the team's impotent offense. The Birds have a few weeks to decide whether to bring back injured guard Jason Peters.
The Eagles offensive line has taken much of the blame for the team's impotent offense. The Birds have a few weeks to decide whether to bring back injured guard Jason Peters. (RON CORTES / Staff)
Posted: October 23, 2012

Despite indications from Eagles players after Monday's practice that the offensive line would remain intact, a source close to the situation said later in the evening that King Dunlap was back starting at left tackle ahead of Demetress Bell.

When Andy Reid said last Tuesday after firing defensive coordinator Juan Castillo that he had more moves to make, the offensive line was considered the most likely to undergo change.

Center Dallas Reynolds, right guard Danny Watkins and Bell all seemed to be in jeopardy of losing their jobs after struggling against the Lions. Bell, it ends up, was the only one affected.

"We've got to get better," Reynolds said. "I think we're going to work hard, and we're going to improve. It wasn't the best game for us up front in the Lions game."

Reid was not available for comment, and practice was closed. Reynolds said that he was still the starting center.

"As far as I know," Reynolds said. "Until they come and say otherwise."

Steve Vallos is listed behind Reynolds on the depth chart, but he has not been active for two games. Evan Mathis was the emergency backup center in both instances, but he's still apparently starting at left guard.

Watkins has had his ups and downs. The 2011 first-round draft pick has increasingly come under fire for his performance at right guard. He declined to answer questions when a reporter approached him because, he said, he read stories critical of his play.

The Eagles don't have an obvious backup guard, although Vallos and tackles King Dunlap and Dennis Kelly can play there. Rookie lineman Nate Menkin is listed as a tackle and guard.

Dunlap supplanted Bell after the first preseason game and started the first two games of the regular season. He strained his hamstring in the second half of the Ravens game, however, and lost his spot as Bell gradually improved. But Bell had perhaps his worst game against the Lions.

Both Dunlap and Bell have had a hard time replacing Jason Peters. While it remains a long shot, the Eagles are still hopeful that Peters can return late in the season or, if applicable, for the playoffs.

The all-pro was seen working out on the practice field Monday. Peters, who is on the non-football injury list after rupturing his Achilles tendon in March, was running at half speed through light agility drills.

The Eagles have until Week 9 to decide if they want to ease Peters back into practicing. They then would have an additional three weeks to decide if they wanted to activate him or place him on season-ending injured reserve.

Patterson practices

Mike Patterson returned to practice Monday.

As reported Sunday, the defensive tackle's return was a bit of a surprise considering how pessimistic Reid has been recently about his chances. Patterson still has some obstacles to clear before he can play.

"It's still a cautious thing," Patterson said.

The veteran had surgery in January to remove an arteriovenous malformation from his brain. He played last season despite the condition, but doctors held off his return following the operation.

Monday was the first day that Patterson, who is on the non-football injury list, could return to practice. The Eagles have three weeks to decide if they want to activate him to the 53-man roster or place him on injured reserve.

The Eagles need help on the defensive line. Patterson said he worked with the scout team during what was a light practice.

"I'm not in the rotation right now, so . . . they're just going to take it slow," Patterson said. "We're going to see how things work out. [Reid] is just not in a rush to get me out there and risk anything."

Extra points

Safety Nate Allen (hamstring) did not practice but he said that he expects to play Sunday against the Falcons. . . . Jason Kelce underwent surgery to correct a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee on Thursday. The center is out for the season and faces about nine months of rehabilitation.


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