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Eagles' starting O-line still uncertain for Sunday

geoff mosher csnphilly

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 06:37 PM


Eagles' starting O-line still uncertain for Sunday

November 16, 2012, 3:14 pm

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Stop us if you’ve heard this one: There’s some uncertainty about the Eagles’ starting offensive line going into Sunday’s game against the Redskins.

Right guard Danny Watkins, who missed the past three games from a severe ankle injury, fully participated in all practices this week and is expected to start at FedEx Field, but head coach Andy Reid on Friday expressed some concern whether the second-year lineman could stay healthy.

Reid has termed the injury -- which had components of high- and low-ankle sprains -- as chronic and said Watkins still get some tweaks here and there.

“Well, what you end up getting with the high ankle, you get tweaks there,” Reid said after practice. “And so it hinders your lateral mobility. I was proud of him for getting out there [in practice] and going through what he did. He did a nice job with it. He’s making progress and we’ll just see how he does here.”

Watkins has said all week that he expects to start against the Redskins. If for some reason he suffers a setback leading up to the game or has to come out, Reid discussed his several Plan B's, but none sounded encouraging.

The Eagles could go back with veteran backup guard Jake Scott, who was just signed Tuesday after spending the first 10 weeks of the season out of the NFL. Scott would only have three full practices and a Saturday walkthrough under his belt if he played Sunday.

Reid could also slide rookie right tackle Dennis Kelly to guard, where he started for Watkins in each of the past three games, and reinsert Demetress Bell at tackle (right or left) to fill Kelly’s void.

That’s not an inspiring combination given Kelly struggles at guard and Bell’s inability to hold down a starting job since training camp. Bell has struggled so much that he went back to the bench after last Sunday’s loss to Dallas in favor of the rookie Kelly.

Reid also mentioned backup center Matt Tennant as a potential replacement at right guard. Tennant joined the team Oct. 23 after spending his first two seasons with the Saints and being cut by New England before the season.

There is enough concern about Watkins’ ability to endure against the Redskins that Kelly said he’s only 60 percent certain he’ll be playing right tackle.

“We’ll see,” Reid said. “I‘ve got a couple of things in there that I’m working with.”

Even though Scott hadn’t been with an NFL team until this week, he would be the likeliest candidate to play right guard if Watkins couldn’t make it.

Scott has started 121 of 124 career games with Indianapolis and Tennessee. He played 57 games from 2004 to 2007 for the Colts, whose offensive line was then coached by Howard Mudd, the Eagles’ current offensive line coach.

Reid said he was comfortable enough with Scott’s knowledge of the offense to play him if needed despite the long layoff between games. Scott hasn’t played since Jan. 1, 2012, a 23-22 Titans win over the Texans in the 2011 season finale.

“For what he did out there it looked like he was [in shape],” Reid said. “He looks like he’s in pretty good shape. We put him through an excessive workout just in case it came down to where he had to get in and play, and he handled that well.

“But you gotta go play. You’ve got to see if that happens if he’s in the game and playing, so I can’t tell you tell you [if Scott is in game shape] unless that were to happen.”

As for Tennant, Reid said the backup center “has actually done well” in practice and “he’s rotated in [at guard], too, so he’s done all that and done well.”

E-mail Geoff Mosher at gmosher@comcastsportsnet.com.