Eagles Add Center Tennant, Release Vallos

The Eagles have made a roster move at center, signing Matt Tennant and releasing Steve Vallos.

Tennant (6-5, 300) was originally a fifth-round pick by the Saints in 2010. He played his college ball at Boston College. In 2010 and 2011, Tennant appeared in six games for New Orleans, but did not start any of them, according to Pro Football Focus. He was let go and claimed on waivers by the Patriots before this season. New England released Tennant once previously, but ended up re-signing him. Tennant did not dress for any games with the Patriots.

Here’s the NFL.com write-up on Tennant from when he was drafted:

Strengths: Tennant possesses a nice blend of size and athleticism. Displays impressive initial quickness and agility to reach his blocks at the second level. Is a real technician with great field awareness. Exhibits good hand use and gets his arms extended and locked. Body control and balance are also impressive.

Weaknesses: Has a good frame but lacks good bulk for the position. Does not possess the power to consistently deal with the bull rush when pass blocking or blow interior lineman off the ball in the running game. Is not a great knee bender.

The Eagles clearly feel like they have to upgrade the offensive line, but their options are limited right now. They’ve handed the starting left tackle spot back to King Dunlap, demoting Demetress Bell for the time-being. They also worked out veteran tackle/guard Chris Williams, but he signed with the Rams.

The Eagles have been scrambling at center ever since Jason Kelce tore his ACL in Week 2 against the Ravens. Kelce had surgery yesterday but is out for the season.

Dallas Reynoldshas started the last four games, but he’s been shaky. Vallos spent training camp with the Eagles, but was cut before the season started. He was re-signed after the Kelce injury, but didn’t dress the last two games.

There’s a chance Tennant could push Reynolds, but considering we’re already in Week 8, he’ll have to make up for lost time.

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

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Taking Stock Of the O-Line

Philadelphia Eagles offensive line coach Howard MuddThe area where the Eagles are most likely to shake up personnel during the bye week is the offensive line.

The problem? They don’t have a lot of options. We’ll see if they sign someone or even make a trade. But given the way the roster currently stands, let’s take a look at all five spots to see where things could be headed in the final 10 games.

Left tackle: King Dunlap won the starting job out of camp and was the man the first two weeks before suffering an injury. Since then, it’s been Demetress Bell. The Eagles are looking for adequate out of this spot, not great. They know none of their current options is going to be Jason Peters. I thought Bell gave them adequate a couple weeks ago against the Steelers. But he struggled big-time against the Lions.

The key with Bell is this: Do you think he can be significantly better a few weeks from now? If the answer is yes, you stick with him. After all, this is the guy the Eagles targeted in the offseason to fill in for Peters, and he comes with a track record of having started 24 games prior to 2012. But if you anticipate him playing more games like last week, you have to make a change. One option, and probably the most likely, is to go back to Dunlap. The other (and a longshot) would be to throw rookie Dennis Kelly into the mix.

Left guard: Evan Mathis has not been as consistent as last year, but he’s the least of the concerns on the offensive line. The Eagles took a look at Chris Williams yesterday. He started nine games at left guard for the Bears last year.

Center: Jason Kelce’s injury has simply been devastating. He started the first two games, and since then, it’s been Dallas Reynolds. The offense had a pair of botched snaps last game, one of which resulted in a turnover. You can live with Reynolds missing blocks and getting beaten, but errors like the snap that sailed past Michael Vick will kill this team.

The Eagles have veteran Steve Vallos on the roster, but all signs indicate they’re not too confident in him. Remember, Reynolds beat out Vallos in the preseason. And even though the Eagles brought Vallos back, he’s been inactive the past two games. Instead of having him dress as Reynolds’ backup, the Eagles have gone with Mathis. So if you’re looking for a truly outside-the-box idea, that might be it – give Mathis a shot at center.

Last week, when I was asked Todd Herremans why the Eagles have improved against the blitz, he pointed to preparation and mentioned that Mathis had been going to meetings with Reynolds and Vick. From a physical standpoint, Mathis is better than Reynolds. And going over the protection calls probably wouldn’t be a major issue. But there are two major red flags. One is that Mathis has never played center in the NFL (yes, that’s a big one). And the other is this: If you’re weakening left guard to potentially upgrade at center, then what’s really the point?

Right guard: Danny Watkins continues to be way too up-and-down in his second season, specifically in pass protection. Does he have his moments? Sure. Watkins did a good job pulling in front of a LeSean McCoy run last week, and I showed with the All-22 how he did a nice job on a 17-yard screen. But overall, just too many mistakes.

I know some are calling for him to be replaced, but Watkins doesn’t look any worse to me now than he did for much of last season. And the truth is, the Eagles don’t have a lot of options to replace him. Dunlap played a game at guard last season and held up well. But asking him to play there every week is a different story. Kelly played guard in the preseason, but it’s unlikely that the rookie would be able to step in and provide a significant upgrade. The Eagles signed Nate Menkin from the Texans’ practice squad, but he seems like more of a down-the-road option.

In other words, I think they stick with Watkins and hope that he improves.

Right tackle: Of all the positions, this is where the Eagles actually have some flexibility. Todd Herremans has been up-and-down this season. And you know he can play guard at a high level. But the only reason you move him inside is if you’re able to adequately replace him at right tackle. Would I consider Dunlap adequate? Probably. But I have concerns about him holding up for a 10-game stretch. If they really like Kelly, he could be an option too.

I’m not sure replacing Watkins with Herremans and Herremans with Dunlap/Kelly is a significant upgrade. If the Mathis-to-center move is an option, then perhaps Herremans moves to left guard. But that would mean three of the five spots would be occupied by new starters – probably too drastic a shake-up for Week 8 of the regular season.

I’d say it’s unlikely that Herremans gets moved back to guard at this point, but given the struggles of this group, my guess is all options are on the table for the final 10 games.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Even if he wants to, Andy Reid cannot replace Vick with Nick Foles. Tim explains why.

While we are well aware of the offensive line’s struggles, this week’s All-22 analysis shows that Vick left too many plays on the field Sunday.

Reid is getting slammed by the national media for his decision to fire Juan Castillo.

The link between Todd Bowles and Bill Parcells was formed during Bowles’ playing days.

What does the Castillo firing say about Reid? Tim takes a look.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

SI.com’s Don Banks has the Eagles 13th in his power rankings:

Well, I’d say Andy Reid finally understands the urgency of the situation in Philly. It’s win-or-surrender-your-parking-space time. Firing a coordinator and benching a quarterback are two of the biggest cards an embattled head coach can play in midseason to try to save the ship from going down. Reid just did one of those, and looks ready to do the other any minute now.

Joe Banner was introduced as new CEO of the Cleveland Browns yesterday and was asked how his current situation compares to taking over the Eagles. Per the team’s Web site:

“There are a lot of analogies. You’re in a market with a fan base that’s just tremendously passionate and frankly, in running a franchise there’s nothing more valuable than being in a place where they care that much and there’s that much passion and interest. That’s very analogous to what I had in Philadelphia. The challenge is how do we take advantage of that and how do we reward that quite frankly, whether it’s a gameday experience, getting from your car to the stadium or buying a hot dog at the concession stand or how you feel when you walk out of the building based on how the team performed. We’re going to evaluate every single aspect of that and that’s again similar to Philadelphia. There will be some places where a little incremental improvement can be made and there will some places, frankly, where you’ll see dramatic changes, but it will take time.”

COMING UP

You should know by now that Birds 24/7 doesn’t believe in the bye week. We’ll have plenty of content to get you through the day.

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

Making Sense Of the Eagles’ Inactives

The following Eagles are inactive for today’s 1 p.m. game against the Steelers: Trent Edwards, Riley Cooper, Chris Polk, Akeem Jordan, Steve Vallos, Nate Menkin and Vinny Curry.

Of note offensively, Dion Lewis is active for the first time all season. Lewis had a good training camp, but battled a hamstring injury in the early part of the season. He was eventually replaced by Bryce Brown as LeSean McCoy’s backup. Brown saw his most action of the season last week, playing 15 snaps against the Giants. Through four games he has played 13.1 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus.

Polk had been playing special teams. He’s yet to see an offensive snap.

On the offensive line, the Eagles have two backups active: King Dunlap and Dennis Kelly. Neither is a prototypical guard, but Dunlap played there last season, and Kelly played there in the preseason. Demetress Bell gets the start at left tackle. If Dallas Reynolds were to go down, the Eagles would have to figure out who to plug in at center. Evan Mathis might be the leading candidate.

At wide receiver, Cooper was listed as probable on Friday’s injury report, but he’s inactive. Cooper has yet to dress this season as he recovers from a collarbone injury sustained during training camp. The Eagles have five active wide receivers: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson and Mardy Gilyard.

Defensively, Curry, a second-round pick, is inactive again. He hasn’t dressed this season. The Eagles go with their usual nine defensive linemen.

At linebacker, Jordan is out with a hamstring injury, and Jamar Chaney gets the start. Adrian Moten, who was signed in favor of Brian Rolle, is active.

Colt Anderson and Derek Landri were both listed as questionable on Friday, but both will play.

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

Kelce Out For the Season; Vallos Signing Official

Philadelphia Eagles center Jason KelceEagles center Jason Kelce will not play again in 2012. The team announced today that he has been placed on season-long injured reserve.

As of yesterday morning, the plan was to let the torn MCL in Kelce’s right knee recover, but Eagles doctors and the training staff decided to go ahead and fix it this morning. When Kelce had his knee scoped, they also made the decision that he would need to have his partially-torn ACL fixed.

“His knee was much looser than it was on the field or in the training room yesterday, and so they figured that he had a pretty good anterior cruciate ligament tear,” said Eagles head athletic trainerRick Burkholder. “When they scoped his knee, they found that his anterior cruciate ligament was torn, not totally, it was partially torn, but it was torn enough and in the wrong area of the ligament that they felt that they were going to have to fix his ACL.”

The plan now is let the MCL heal for three-to-four weeks and then perform surgery on the ACL. From there, Burkholder estimated that Kelce would face about a nine-month recovery period, which would put him at roughly around mid-July, right before the start of training camp.

Burkholder said Kelce’s injury is pretty “straightforward” and added that they expect him to make a full recovery.

“I think he knew he had a knee injury that was pretty significant just from what he felt on the field and what he saw on tape,” Burkholder said. “I think he was hoping for the best, but he had prepared himself for the worst.”

Kelce had started 18 games in a row since the Eagles picked him in the sixth round of the 2011 draft. He had been given more responsibility in terms of making protection calls at the line of scrimmage this year and had steadily improved as a blocker. He was particularly impressive at the second level, taking on linebackers and defensive backs and helping LeSean McCoy in the run game.

Now the Eagles will rely on Dallas Reynolds, a three-time practice-squad player who finally made the 53-man roster this season. Reynolds, originally an undrafted free agent out of BYU, saw his first NFL action on Sunday and played well against the Ravens. He was given the same pre-snap responsibilities as Kelce.

The Eagles also signed veteran Steve Vallos today. Vallos, originally a seventh-round pick by the Seahawks in 2007, has eight career starts under his belt, but those came in 2008 and 2009.

When you add in Jason Peters’ offseason Achilles injury, the Eagles have now lost two out of five offensive linemen from the unit that finished last season so strong.

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

Source: Eagles Likely To Sign Center Vallos

With Jason Kelce sidelined, the Eagles will will bring in veteran center Steve Vallos for a visit Tuesday and are likely to sign him, a source confirmed to Tim McManus.

Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com was the first to report the expected move.

Vallos spent training camp with the Birds, but was let go when the team cut its roster down to 53. He had been battling with Dallas Reynolds for the backup job at Lehigh.

Vallos, 28, was originally a seventh-round pick by the Seahawks back in 2007. He’s started eight games in his career, but those came in 2008 and 2009. Vallos spent 2010 and 2011 with the Cleveland Browns.

Against the Ravens, Reynolds saw his first NFL action and played well (offensive line game review here).

As for Kelce, he’ll be out a minimum of four-to-six weeks and could be done for the season. Details on his timetable right here.

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

With Kelce Down, A Look At the Eagles’ Options

It’s not yet determined whether Jason Kelce is lost for the season, but the Eagles will be without their center for at least a month while his torn MCL heals. While Dallas Reynolds will take over in the interim, it makes sense that a move would be made to add depth.

Here is a list of the top available free agent centers, via Adam Caplan at The Sideline View.

Jason Brown 
Casey Wiegmann
Steve Vallos 
Jamaal Jackson
Matt Tennant
Andre Gurode 
Chris Morris 
Chris White
Brett Romberg
Bryan Mattison 

Lots of Eagles fans have asked about Jackson for obvious reasons. He was a quality player for the Eagles before injury and a scheme change altered his path. Offensive line coach Howard Mudd never seemed to be a big fan of Jackson, and it’s hard to envision the Eagles bringing the 32-year-old back at this stage. As of Monday morning, there had been no contact between Jackson and the Eagles.

The same goes for Wiegmann, who had started in 160 straight games for the Broncos and Chiefs heading into this season but has yet to find  a home. The 39-year old has 16 season of NFL experience.

The most likely candidates out of this group are the ones that have recent history with the Eagles: Vallos and Vandervelde.

Vallos is the guess here for who the Eagles will go after. Originally drafted in the seventh round by the Seahawks back in 2007, the 6-3, 310-pounder bounced from the Seahwaks to the Browns before signing a one-year deal with the Eagles this offseason. He was left off the final roster, but seemed to have a decent camp.

Vandervelde is currently on the Bucs’ practice squad. He was a fifth-round pick of the Eagles last season and was a casualty on cut-down day.