The third iteration of the Eagles’ offensive line in as many weeks is now set.
Nate Herbig will be sliding over to left guard to replace Isaac Seumalo, and Matt Pryor will be taking over at right guard for Sunday’s home game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Coach Doug Pederson confirmed the position swaps during his Friday news conference, confirming what was apparent based on the lineman pairings during practice all week.
Seumalo, was placed on injured reserve earlier this week after suffering a knee injury against the Los Angeles Rams. Herbig and Pryor have been practicing with the first team during the individual drills this week, with Pryor working next to right tackle Lane Johnson and Herbig on the opposite side.
Herbig started the first two games of the season on the right side and appeared to be settling in just as the swap occurred. But Pederson said the Eagles have more confidence uprooting Herbig because of his experience playing several spots in practice.
“The No. 1 thing is Matt Pryor, for us, has played right guard specifically,” Pederson said. “He played there last year, he played next to Lane last year and he feels comfortable there. Nate’s been the guy that we’ve been able to use in a couple of spots; he can also play center if need be. He’s the one that we feel more comfortable in right now being able to move him to the left side.”
Pryor, a sixth-round draft pick in 2018, came in on the left side midway through the Rams game once Seumalo went down, and he said Friday that he’s comfortable on both sides of the ball.
Herbig played both guard spots at Stanford, where he was a three-year starter before going undrafted in 2019. He spent last season on the 53-man roster as a backup center, although he only played a few snaps in garbage time during the regular-season finale against the New York Giants.
“Everything flips,” Herbig said of the position swap. “Your hands flip, your stance flips, the play flips. So, it’s just being more conscious of those things and knowing that everything is opposite.”
He struggled at times against Washington in the season opener but played well against the Rams, helping contain All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
Pryor will finally get the chance to start at right guard, the role he was expected to fill. When All-Pro right guard Brandon Brooks suffered a torn Achilles in the offseason, it looked like Pryor would step in because he started there against Seattle in last year’s wild-card playoff round following another injury to Brooks. Once the team signed Jason Peters to fill that role, Pryor was relegated to a backup spot yet again but got first-team reps at left tackle when Andre Dillard suffered his season-ending biceps injury. Peters eventually took that spot from Pryor, too.
Despite all the first-team work Pryor got during camp, he was passed over by a handful of players, including Herbig, Jack Driscoll, and Jordan Mailata, when injuries ravaged the offensive front in Week 1.
“It didn’t really set me back,” Pryor said about the apparent demotion on the depth chart. “Any kind of situation like that, it makes somebody want to work harder. At the end of the day, the coaches felt that it was what’s best for the team, so there’s nothing negative going on there. It just made me put things in perspective and get back on the track of working harder and putting myself in a position to be ready to get back onto the field.”
Fletcher Cox a game-time decision
Pederson said defensive tackle Fletcher Cox is going to be a game-time decision after suffering an oblique injury during the Rams game. He missed practice up until Friday when he did some work without a helmet during the part of the session open to the media.
Receivers Alshon Jeffery (foot) and Jalen Reagor (thumb), and safety Rudy Ford (groin) were ruled out of Sunday’s game, rounding out the rest of the injury report.
“It was great to get Alshon on the practice field in some individual [drills],” Pederson said. “The routes-on-air period that we were able to throw with him. Just beginning to incorporate him back into a full practice schedule. I’m optimistic moving forward in the next couple weeks, possibly, but again it just depends on how he does, how he recovers.”