Encouraging Signs For Eagles’ Offensive Line

Antonio Dixon is used to the pace and structure of the Eagles’ 11-on-11 team drills. He’s been participating in them all spring and knows what’s expected.

Jason Kelce, on the other hand, had been sitting out that portion of practice as he continued to recover from a torn ACL. But Tuesday, for the first time, Kelce lined up as the Eagles’ starting center, and he decided to go all out, mixing it up with Dixon on the very first snap.

“I think I was probably going a little bit harder than I should have in OTAs, and Antonio didn’t like it so we kind of got in a scuffle,” Kelce said with a laugh. “But it’s all good. We’ll be friends when we go back in there.”

In many ways, Tuesday provided the most encouraging sign the Eagles have seen all offseason: the (likely) first-team offensive line on the field together. To Kelce’s right were Todd Herremans and first-round pick Lane Johnson. To his left were Evan Mathis and Jason Peters.

Mathis had missed time as he recovered from offseason ankle surgery. Peters, who is recovering from an Achilles’ injury, missed last week because of a personal issue, but was back on the field Tuesday. The five-time Pro Bowler has drawn overwhelmingly positive reviews from coaches and teammates. He’s sounded confident all offseason, and that continued yesterday.

“Come check me out on Sunday, preseason games. You’ll see if I’m back,” Peters said, via the Daily News. “You be the judge. I know y’all always writing stuff about different stuff, but you be the judge of it. I’m gonna go out there and play as hard as I can. I’m not gonna win all the battles, but I’m gonna win most of ’em.”

Peters has been a full participant all spring, while Kelce and Mathis were eased back in on Tuesday.

Players returning from knee injuries sometimes have to battle an instinct of hesitancy. Even though the pads weren’t on, that doesn’t seem to be the case with Kelce.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t notice it when I’m out there,” he said. “I more notice it when I’m doing individuals or things that are a little bit slower paced. When I’m going full speed, everything happens so fast, you don’t really have time to [think], ‘What’s my knee feel like?'”

“It’s a very good feeling when you haven’t played football against a defensive player in eight months. …To know that you’re that much closer, to know that your knee is still feeling great when you’re doing stuff like that, it feels awesome. It’s a very frustrating feeling to finish that season the way it went and also to just be in the rehab room and the training room for eight months.”

Kelce, Herremans, Peters and Mathis are all coming off of injuries. And Johnson will have to prove he can be a quick learner as a rookie.

But on paper, the offensive line has a chance to return to being a strength of this football team, like it was in 2011.

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  • S.Paxson

    Ok this starting unit obviously needs an epically cool universal nickname. Who is going to start the brainstorm process?

    • southy

      The Big, The Fast, and the Kelce
      4 gimps and a rook
      Ten(don)acious O

      … it’s a work in progress.

      • nicksaenz1

        Lig-A-Ment, Just a Little Bit

        • S.Paxson

          Hahahahah the cavalary of cadaver ligaments

  • If this line stays healthy, it can be one of the best in the league. Definitely the most athletic. They can win us some games next year.

    • Dutch

      So long as Peters is healthy this is one of the League’s Better Offensive Lines. If Peters is not available, all bets are off. Peters can make anybody lining up with him better.

      • nicksaenz1

        Is that why Evan Mathis graded out higher last year without Peters to his left than in 2011? Just making the point. Obv, the line is better with him on it, but the real beneficiaries are the QBs (drastically less pressure), the RBs (superior run blocking, see: Shady 2011 v 2012) and the TEs (they don’t have to chip before breaking off for routes). However, a lesser guard would certainly benefit, but luckily, we have Mathis.

        • Run Eagles Run

          that stat is bullshit. sure mathis may have “graded out” better without peters,.but youre retarded if you think the o-line isnt better with peters. where are you gonna send your defensive pressure if the other teams top tackle is out? not at mathis. at the guy taking peters spot.

          • nicksaenz1

            You might be retarded for missing that part where I said, “Obv, the line is better with him on it.” If you need help locating it, it’s on the second line of the post.

          • Run Eagles Run

            then what was the point of your comment? to say nothing? maybe you missed the part where I said they’re not sending the pressure at mathis, they are sending it at the back up, so your comment, as a whole, is worthless and retarded. dont be mad at me because you have nothing to say worth hearing. you’re misleading statement makes it sound as though peters doesnt make the guys next to him better… youre wrong, and stupid. sorry.

          • theycallmerob

            […]the real beneficiaries are the QBs (drastically less pressure), the RBs
            (superior run blocking, see: Shady 2011 v 2012) and the TEs (they don’t
            have to chip before breaking off for routes) […]

            many points were actually made. and save the keyboard warrior BS

          • Dutch

            I predicted you’d have nothing of value to input but make a pointless comment to involved yourself in their dispute. Trying I see to save the day for nick.

            So basically you’re contesting the original post that Without Peters it doesn’t matter who’s starting on the Eagles line, or where, they aren’t relevant in any discussion on being a good Offensive Line?

            That’s the crux of the discussion. Mathis, Kelce, Watkin and Herreman healthy don’t give the same performance if Peters isn’t anchoring the Eagles Offensive Line.

          • Oh so you’re saying taking a premier player out of a unit makes the rest of the unit not as good? Not exactly a revelation.

          • Dutch

            You’d be surprise on the blowback from that reason and, that some here think otherwise on that matter.

            I really think it’s only for argumentative purposes.

          • Run Eagles Run

            the best part is the nick whatever guy, after I challenged him, admits he was saying that to rile up his buddy. admits that the line is better with peters, that peters makes mathis’ job EASIER…. but STILL contests that peters doesnt make mathis “better”. LOL, and people still upvote. I love philly fans.

          • Dutch

            He’s a flag pin wearing member of the Hate Vick Fraternity that converge here and they support each other. Up Votes is their badge of courage regardless of how ridiculous and assuming their reason.

          • Run Eagles Run

            its really impressive, I must say.

          • nicksaenz1

            I love insults coming from a guy who claims to be the bastion of logic, yet, can’t execute basic command of the English language.

          • nicksaenz1

            It’s not a tough concept. Really, it’s not. There isn’t necessarily a correlation between the ease of a job and skill with which said job is done. That’s actually evidenced in Mathis’ grading in 2011 v 2012 with and without Peters. I’m going to up vote my own post now.

          • Run Eagles Run

            you admitted to trolling, and now you’re arguing semantics. its really pathetic that you cant admit you were wrong, and just arguing for the sake of an argument.

            “I’m going to up vote my own post now”

            Am I supposed to know what that means? You’re not very clever, So just come out and say what you mean.

          • nicksaenz1

            I’ve never trolled and certainly never admitted it. And semantics? Just say you have nothing with which to reply, because your labeling my post semantics says that you have nothing to say…. and the up vote was mocking your comment about the up vote. I’m out. You and dutch have fun.

          • Run Eagles Run

            thats because either you deleted or edited the comment, but you said you were basically just trying to get a rise out of dutch because you and he always get into it. AHAHA! You are truly pathetic. Nice cop out. Its ok, you and I know the truth. If you just never admit to saying something stupid, its almost like you really didnt say something stupid. This is why you cant have real discussions with stupid people, folks. They will never admit they were trolling, and if they do, they go back and delete it. But you and I know the truth. ****this is from my email alert, word for word you wrote this and then went back and deleted it***** “Dutch n I often go back n forth in these comments. I agree that the line is obv better w/ him on it. I pointed out something that works counter to his assertion in his last sentence to rile him up. Then you chimed in…”

          • nicksaenz1

            The post is still there, genius. And engaging another poster with whom I’m frequently in discussion, whether I want to be or not and regardless of intent, doesn’t constitute trolling. Keep trying.

          • Run Eagles Run

            keep denying. you admitted to intentionally trying to rile him up. pretty sure thats what trolling is all about. You nitpicked the meaning of some words with the sole purpose of ballbusting. Not because you had anything to add. You’re a troll. Sorry.

          • nicksaenz1

            Speaking of trolls, where did you come from?

          • nicksaenz1

            By your logic mathis didn’t block anyone at all and would therefore have no information to be evaluated thus having no basis to have been rated the best guard last year. Moreover, your statement is an assumption. So you should try less with the personal attacks and come with some facts to prove it. That Mathis was rated as the best guard in football last year and that he was rated better than he was in 2011 is a fact.

          • Dutch

            That wasn’t his logic that is just how you’d interpreted his remarks. Besides Carl Nicks & Jahri Evans are considered the best guards in Football. That’s not taking anything away from the effort Mathis gives, but it’s a stretch to claim Mathis is better than Nicks & Evans.

            You have a habit of twisting facts into a pretzel, you’re the guy that claimed I was distorting Nick Foles scouting reports coming out of Arizona, and posted a line to a report that laid the same claims I made you contested as true. I know how you exaggerate the facts to fit your narrative.

            It’s not as complex as you are pretending, Mathis a starter under most conditions, played on a Eagles line beside backups who would not be seeing substantial playing time in the NFL if health concerns were not the issue in 2012 for the Eagles Offensive Unit.

            Under those conditions how is it not possible to grade out higher than he would had Peters been playing?

          • nicksaenz1

            Must be fun to leave out facts. I posted another link to another scouting report that was far more favorable, proving that scouting reports vary, there’s entirely too many of them, and it’s easy to pick and choose to fit a narrative, which is your game, not mine. I know who’s paid as the best guards, and I can’t help that Mathis graded out better. But, he did. Peters makes the line, as a whole, better. He does not make individuals with the ability of a Mathis better on an individual basis.

          • Dutch

            You’re searching for “Favorable Reports” only to fit your narrative, but I applaud you for even trying and having the heart to post a link that verified exactly what I said Reports projected.

            I am sure if I wanted I could find reports that omitted Foles Flaws also, but I’m only interested in the truth not winning a debate.

          • JofreyRice

            No true scotsman fallacy.

          • cliff henny

            really regret not taking a logic course. keep pointing them out, i enjoy google searching them, lol

          • JofreyRice

            I feel like it should be taught in high school, or maybe even grammar school. So important.

            They are always updating and refining specific fallacies. I learned an older version with 7 basic ones, but there are a ton that are subcategories of those 7.

            Carl Sagan’s “Baloney Detection Kit” from The Demon Haunted World has a pretty good set, IMO.

          • cliff henny

            just wiki’d logical fallacies…which is more Dutch

            1.arguement of ignorance or

            2. arguement by assertion

            http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Logical_fallacy

          • JofreyRice

            Whew, that’s a tough one. He’s really got a full toolbox when it comes to the fallacies. He’s like the ultimate weapon, capable of a little of everything. Definitely argument from ignorance (Chip Kelly hasn’t proven he won’t run the read option, so that means he will), appeal to the mob (Phila fans love Vick, so he must be the best choice), special pleading (only mentioning Foles’ shortcomings, ignoring/explaining Vick’s), begging the question & no true scotsman (ignoring the positive scouting reports as invalid, because, they *can’t* be true, because everyone knows Foles is a horrible player), argumentum ad hominem -poisoning the well (saying anyone who disagrees with him is not knowledgeable, a soccer fan, etc.), appeal to authority (citing scouting reports and his own personal knowledge as a fan to pronounce Foles a failure). I mean, really, you name it, he pretty much does it. I hadn’t seen that rational wiki before–now it looks like if he’s on a campaign of Argumentum Ad Nauseum.

            For a lot of folks, including you, he’s heavy into the strawman, pretending you are a huge Foles supporter. I’m not sure if he’s doing this purposefully for effect, or if he just doesn’t bother actually reading people’s responses. Considering he continued to mention that Vick was only at Va Tech for one year, even after I revealed to him that he was there for two, I think its more the latter.

          • cliff henny

            ooops, he just replied,,,ad hominem to the list. drop the box, and that’s what he is.

            fun list though. interesting book listed, 38 ways to win an arguement, by aurther shopenhauer. might have to order that, bet it would be great for sales

          • Dutch

            Well you don’t have much of an intellect to appeal to and become sensitive to facts. So it’s understandable how you can mischaracterize my post……………. Your attempt at wordsmithing makes you none the less more intelligent than anyone else participating here.

          • nicksaenz1

            the one commenting on another’s intelligence can’t use “nonetheless” correctly. that’s priceless.

          • theycallmerob

            Hahah glad your learning! Tis a fun game

          • cliff henny

            and you wanted to make it into a drinking game…holy smokes! i’d be drunker than a sailor on leave after 30 mins

          • theycallmerob

            Working in a public HS in baltimore city will build your tolerance quickly

          • Dutch

            It’s not that complex and you’re not that intelligent if it’s not deciphered by the accounts recanted by the players of the offense they’re spending time learning in camp this spring.

            All the nonsense you wrote only serves to confirm the degree of denial you are in with regards to the intentions thus far down at Novacare.

            You remind me of the other guy mentions the Belly, as if it’s a sophisticated play call when it’s nothing more than a play fake involving the Quarterback riding the ball with the running back.

            You guys prove every day and such small ways you know nothing about football, you key among the ill informed.

          • Dutch

            Argument or ignorance of……….. Wiki, you had better get a more credible source than that or you will be the class dunce and made to resemble a fool. You should feel simple now bringing up Wiki as a source of information you depend upon.

          • Dutch

            You’re never too old to learn, might I recommend “Reason for Dummies” it’s available at Amazon. com

            You can read and learn at a remedial pace.

          • cliff henny

            valuable insight as usual Dutch, thanks.

          • nicksaenz1

            i posted 2, one went each way. you sir, pick out select things that work for you to try to win a debate. thats all you do. and make unfounded assertions, cant leave that out…. and mathis improved, i understand, but assigning said improvement to peters is irresponsible.

          • Dutch

            Stop being so easy! I’m not the individual searching engines to find ammunition to stay credible in a discussion.

            I’ll give you credit for not pretending to be some psychoanalysis on a football blog. That you have going for you .

          • nicksaenz1

            Ha, keep your credit. You’re the last person that should be discussing credibility.

          • Dutch

            I didn’t post one report, the Report you posted in that instance validated everything I said Foles Scouting Reports claimed and projected he would be if put under the gun of an NFL Rush.

            Your argument in this case is built on false presumptions.

          • nicksaenz1

            You’re right, you didn’t post a report. Again, you’re making stuff up. I said I put up two, one was confirming of your opinion, the other not so much. Stop making things up to be relevant.

          • Dutch

            Mathis is worth his salt now he’s with the Eagles and playing with Peters. That’s not a reputation and recognition he developed at previous stops before lining up next to Peters. Whether you want to accept that truth or stay in denial.

        • Dutch

          Mathis seemingly graded out higher because he was playing along side backups on the NFL’s worse Offensive Line.

          With Peters available the Eagles are a better line, Peters drags the other linemen into better performances. With Peters availability Celek still has to chip and help Herremans, Herremans and Watkins are the path of least resistance for a defense.

  • Brent E. Sulecki

    looks like very promising and strong line. much needed

  • jabostick

    In a post the other day, it mentioned a formation with both tackles on one side of the line. I’m picturing some crazy screen where Peters and Johnson (and Kelce) are flying up the field mowing down LBs and DBs while McCoy jogs behind them.

    • ClydeSide

      It’s the old single wing–Pop Warner circa 1910.

      • cliff henny

        hope kelly has a crazy new formation at least once a week…if for any other reason, the defense takes a time every time. never understood why teams dont do this more often. games have been won or lost by a single TO. plus, kelly will have the rep that there is a play, not like if coughlin did it, know it’s bs.

        • S.Paxson

          very nice point. Timeouts can be so valuable as we learned the hard way these past 14years. after seeing the same recycled plays year after year, just seeing some innovation will make this a great season. I look forward to many “What was that” moments. This is a very exciting time for fans such as myself that don’t follow college football. My exposure to the read option, and pistol formations is limited to what I saw last season around the NFL. But I very much look forward to seeing this different way of playing the game, and learning more about it. We might not be good in 2013, but I don’t see how we could be boring

        • theycallmerob

          When it comes to managing timeouts, I don’t think Kelly will have to do much to improve on Reid in that regard.
          Broke many remotes by the 10:36 mark in the 1st qtr, usually the latest he made it before calling one.

  • BrickSquadMonopoly

    The BAity associated with this Oline is very high

  • Rick H

    As encouraging as this sounds I feel we have to significantly improve the backup offensive lineman. If we have much better backups as compared to years past, then the team does not collapse if one of the big time studs like Peters goes down. It is a common problem throughout the league but I hope Chip Kelly thinks outside the box and keeps quality backups at least 4 maybe 5 olinemen.

    • Dutch

      Key point. Depth alone the Offensive Line is critical now and the coming years. I hope what I’m hearing is true: that the development of Dennis Kelly is coming along quite well. The Eagles need at the least two versatile linemen who can step in and the unit not miss a beat.

      Although I am concerned with Kelce returning from major knee injury and whether he can maintain his base in the battles with some of the nose tackles he will eventually square off against this year. It’s vital to prepare another talent along the line with the responsibilities of a center in a zone blocking scheme.

      • Quality depth for all 3-4 backups in the NFL is just not possible in a flat salary cap world. Realistically you’ll have one quality guard/center, and one swing tackle. The guard/center spot is up for grabs, hopefully Kelly at swing tackle although I’m not sure about his ability to play LT effectively.

        Last year was situation that no team could be effective with 4 backups.

        • Dutch

          You get no argument from me, I totally agree. I just hope that D Kelly, based on his pedigree can mature into a credible contributors for not only relief but eventually to take over for the aging members on the current Offensive Line.

          I see Kelly as the utility guard or tackle, and there is a need for someone capable of playing center and guard but most importantly being able to understand the concept and call protections accurately.

    • Run Eagles Run

      they are in much better position, back up wise, this year than last when it comes to the o-line.

  • Warhound

    In general, regarding the mixing and matching of players –

    I should’ve realized this sooner. The way he mixes stuff up is like researchers setting up a long series of designed experiments. From the point of view of scientists, what NFL coaches deal with is mind boggling; 11 variables on offense with plenty of second and even third order interactions makes for a very complex system. I wonder if Chip has knowledge of Statistical Experimental Design.

    • southy

      I’d put money down that he’d look at you sideways if you asked him that.

      • Warhound

        Yeah…. but he did work at Universities for a long time. Also, he may use some of those techniques w/o knowing what others call it. Sigh…I’m probably reaching…

  • Dutch

    It’s nice to know Kelce will stand up for himself. I like the nasty and ruff attitude in offensive linemen. Peters doesn’t seem much for being diplomatic with reporters. This is a good sign from the anchor of the Eagles Line and not a horrible example for Lane Johnson to duplicate.

  • S.Paxson

    Sheil felt chips wrath today.

    And for those that have been wondering, Thorton dinged up his leg and they are just being cautious with him

    • cliff henny

      ok, i’ll bite…what happened?

  • Maggie

    Strange. Some of us moved to this site for quality, insightful writing. By the authors AND by the people commenting. Then we find a page-and-a-half of name-calling. No better than philly.com and not much better than BleedingGreenNation. C’mon, people.

    • Dutch

      Those with respect for the quality of the post by the authors and their work as professionals can disagree without being disagreeable.

      Debating sports in Phila can be contentious, however disparaging remarks and personal attacks does not have to be part of the exchange.

      But some of the exchanges are comical.

  • nicksaenz1

    Sorry you had to delete a ton of comments, Sheil :(

  • Max Lightfoot

    This is (or perhaps used to be) one of the cooler blogs out there. So why all the keyboard warrior flatus? I don’t care whose argument is logical or who has the most experience with football. WE ARE FANS – or at least I am. Really folks, life is too dang short to be squabbling online with others. The quality of Sheil’s and T-Mac’s writing deserves better. Sheesh …