Eagles Camp Countdown #8: Offensive Line

Checking in at number eight is the position group that may have the most underrated impact on the success of the Eagles this season.  Philadelphia’s offensive line has the potential to be a strong unit, but health will be key.  The bookend tackles, Jason Peters and Winston Justice, should be reliable to protect quarterback Kevin Kolb.  After that, things get a little shaky.

The interior of the offensive line is a big area of concern for Philadelphia.  Left guard Todd Herremans appears to be as healthy as he has been in a long time heading into camp, but he has battled foot injuries in the past. Stacy Andrews has the edge at right guard, after struggling through a long recovery from an ACL injury.  Fortunately, the Eagles have a versatile backup for both of the guard positions in Max Jean-Gilles.  Should Andrews or Herremans succumb to injuries again, Jean-Gilles can step in at either position.

Nick Cole is the projected starter at center, but the Eagles hope Jamaal Jackson is available at some point after a late-season ACL injury last year.  After watching Andrews long ACL recovery last year, the Birds shouldn’t get their hopes up too much with Jackson this year.  There is also very little in the way of starting caliber competition behind Cole, with A.Q. Shipley and Mike McGlynn both expected to see some reps at center but not expected to steal the starting spot.

That means that center could be an Achilles heel for the Eagles ,with Cole having had much better success as a guard than a center throughout his career.  Getting into a rhythm in training camp will be extremely important for Cole, as the center is responsible for calling out blitzes and adjusting blocking assignments at the line of scrimmage.  After being thrown into the job late last season, Cole has time to prepare for the role in 2010.

More than anything, continuity will probably be the deciding factor in whether or not the offensive line has a good season.  Injuries could derail the unit, especially with many health-related question marks coming into the season.  If the offensive line leaves the Lehigh Valley without any injuries, the starting five have a chance to do well this year.

Training Camp Coverage

Visit InsideTheIggles.com for exclusive training camp coverage, including practice recaps and scouting reports from the Lehigh Valley.  ITI’s Ryan Messick will be reporting from Training Camp throughout the day on July 31st, August 1st and August 5th through 8th.  Check back often for updates, and follow along on Twitter at www.twitter.com/InsidetheIggles or  www.twitter.com/Ryan_Messick.

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