The State Of the Eagles’ Offensive Line

Todd Herremans says he has not watched the draft since 2005. That was the year the Eagles selected him in the fourth round out of Saginaw Valley State.

But next Thursday could affect the ninth-year pro. After moving to right tackle before the 2011 season, Herremans could be asked to slide back inside to guard, particularly if the Eagles use a first-round pick on someone like Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher or Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson.

So surely Herremans will be tuning in this year, right?

“I’m sure I’ll see it on Twitter,” he said.

“It’s always been a possibility ever since I’ve been here, pretty much, so I just go about my day-to-day business.”

Herremans has maintained all offseason that he would have no problem making the position switch and just wants to get the team’s five best options on the field.

The offensive line is now under the direction of Jeff Stoutland. For players like Herremans and Jason Peters, it’s their third position coach in four seasons.

Asked to compare Stoutland’s teaching style to Howard Mudd’s, Herremans said, “He works [us] a little harder. He’s a little louder. He’s intense. You can tell that he’s a college coach, kind of in your face. He’s kind of got one tone, and that’s loud. But it’s positive. He’s not dog-cussing any of us or anything like that.”

“Stoutland, he’s got an answer for everything,” added Evan Mathis. “He has many tools. It’s not one way to do things on most plays. You have options. And usually those options rely on you game-planning who you’re playing, the techniques that they’re going to be using, so you can use your different tools in those scenarios.

“But as far as coaching style, he’s verbal, he’s outspoken. I think he’s a good communicator. He’s loud, he’s not out there bashing anybody. He’s not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings. He’s a great coach.”

Like the rest of the team, the offensive line is looking to maximize reps during every practice, a stark change from the past.

“When we were in individual [portion of practice] with Howard, Howard was in the school of thought of where if you did a rep and you did it right, lock that in and don’t do another one,” Herremans said. “Stoutland’s like what Juan was. He’s going to have you rep’d out so that it becomes like you don’t even have to think about it.”

Expectations are high for the offensive line. The unit was a strength in 2011, but suffered devastating injuries, which highlighted a lack of depth last year. Even though Jason Kelce was not a full practice participant this week, four of the five spotsare currently claimed.

Right guard, however, is up in the air. Danny Watkins is penciled in there for now, but he’s a giant question mark, and the draft is likely to shape the team’s plans.

“I expected big things from us last year, and it was just terrible to see everybody go down one-by-one,” Mathis said. “Going into this season right now, it’s looking like we’re all going to be healthy, and I expect a lot of us. I expect the offensive line to be able to carry the team on their back. Jason Peters, I think he could have come back late last season if we needed him to, which put him well ahead of schedule for this mini-camp, and he’s out there just in his pure form, looking really good. It’s good to have him back out there. It’s good to have all the guys back, it really is.”

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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