Barbre using versatility to his advantage

Posted: August 20, 2013

THE NEWS just keeps getting better and better for the Eagles' offensive line. Their All-Pro left tackle, Jason Peters, finally is back on the field after missing much of training camp and both of the first two preseason games with a hamstring strain.

And the Eagles appear to have stumbled upon a versatile veteran backup they can plug in either inside or outside in the event of injury to one of the starters.

Allen Barbre, who the Eagles signed as a street free agent in January, has impressed the coaching staff with his play in the first two preseason games, grading out as one of their top offensive linemen in both of those contests.

The 6-4, 310-pounder was used exclusively as a guard in the spring OTAs and minicamps and early in training camp. But after backup Dennis Kelly injured his back 2 weeks ago, Barbre was moved outside to left tackle.

With Peters out, Barbre started both of the first two preseason games at left tackle and played very well.

Barbre, 29, a fourth-round pick of the Packers in 2007, hasn't played in an NFL game in the last 2 years. He was with Seattle and Miami in 2011 and with the Seahawks again last season until he was released in early October after serving a four-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs.

He has played in just 32 games in 6 years and has just seven career starts, all of them with the Packers in '09 at right tackle.

"He's done a really nice job," coach Chip Kelly said. "He's been a real surprise. Especially considering the circumstances. We just kind of threw him out there. It wasn't like he had been taking a ton of reps [at tackle]. In fact, he hadn't taken any reps there in practice or during the spring.

"When [Peters] went down, the big question for us was, do we have another tackle? Obviously, with [right tackle] Lane [Johnson] and Jason, we've got two pretty good ones. But if those guys were to be out, who would be the next tackle?

"I think Allen, to us, has really solidified his situation with us from a depth standpoint because I think sometimes you've got seven guys active on game day and you're going to have to have somebody that's got some versatility [to play both tackle and guard]."

Barbre played left tackle in college at Missouri Southern. Spent his first 2 years with the Packers as a left guard and left tackle before moving to right tackle in '09. He was a left guard last year with the Seahawks before they released him.

"Being able to play more than one position when you're not a starter is key," Barbre said.

Barbre has impressed his linemates, including veteran right guard Todd Herremans, who knows a little something about versatility. He's played every offensive line spot but center.

"You want the best five to be on the field," Herremans said. "But it's an added bonus when your sixth man can play multiple positions. Because then you don't have to take anybody else out of their rhythm.

"He's got great balance. He holds his weight back real well. He's strong as crap. He keeps good leverage on his rusher. And he's patient, which is something he's probably learned along the way. That's important on the edge. He uses that to the fullest when he's out there."

With Peters back at practice the last 2 days, all of Barbre's reps came at left guard with the 2s.

With Kelly out through at least the preseason after needing back surgery, and former first-round pick Danny Watkins out with a concussion, Barbre appears to have a roster spot sewn up if he can stay healthy and play reasonably well in Saturday's preseason game against Jacksonville.

"I'm never going to get complacent or satisfied," Barbre said. "That's setting yourself up for disaster. I'm going to keep working hard. That's kind of what got me here."

Play-caller

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur confirmed yesterday that Chip Kelly will be calling the plays this season. Shurmur will assist from up in the coaches box.

"Chip calls the plays. If there are things that I see [from upstairs] that I think I can help him with, I'll give suggestions. But Chip calls the plays," said Shurmur, who called the plays in St. Louis as the Rams' offensive coordinator in 2009-10, and also as the Browns' head coach in 2011-12.

"I've been up there before, so I know how you have to function in the box. I feel like I'm in a position where I can assist coach with the game."

Upbeat Polk

Chris Polk is coming off a year in which he could not get healthy. He did not record a rush, and only attempted one kick return all of last season.

"It was the hardest times of my life, coming in and not having my number called in the season," Polk said. "I felt like I left my team hanging, and I'm trying not to do that this year. I'm trying to go out there and do what I can, whether it is on special teams, carrying the ball or catching the ball. I just want to play."

Polk is pushing Bryce Brown for the backup running back job, even though he has rushed for just 31 yards on nine carries in the first two preseason games.

He said the biggest difference in him this summer compared to his rookie year is confidence.

"Belief in the system and trying to get better," Brown said. "Coming in day in and day out and trying to get better. We have a lot of good running backs in our room that are more than likely to start and play and carry the load. You just come out here and put your best foot forward."

Quotable I

"Whenever Chip decides. I don't go to bed at night stressing over what's going to happen. I sleep great. When I'm here, I'm working my butt off. It's not a focal point for me. I'm going to keep trying to become the best player possible."

- QB Nick Foles, when asked if it matters to him when Kelly names a starter

Quotable II

"Since Chip has gotten here, there haven't been any guys in the locker room going, 'I don't know about this.' Everybody's bought in. That's one of the keys to how quickly we're picking [the offense] up."

- RG Todd Herremans

Bird seed

Nick Foles said he and Michael Vick split the first-team reps yesterday. Practice was closed to the media, so we had to take his word for it. "It's been how it's been throughout camp," Foles said. "Nothing's really changed. We split the reps. Alternating." . . . Defensive end Isaac Remington has a new number and new position - on the other side of the line. Remington, an undrafted rookie who played for Chip Kelly at Oregon, spent yesterday working with the offensive linemen. Since his old number, 61, also is worn by center-guard Julian Vandervelde, Remington now is wearing No. 52 . . . The same six players who didn't practice Saturday also sat out yesterday's practice: tight end Emil Igwenagu (concussion), guard Danny Watkins (concussion), running back Felix Jones (rib), cornerback Curtis Marsh (fractured hand), linebacker Casey Matthews (knee) and safety Kenny Phillips (knee).

Click here for complete coverage of Philadelphia Eagles training camp.


On Twitter: @Pdomo

Blog: eagletarian.com

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