The same offensive line that started for the Eagles in the second-round playoff loss at New Orleans is expected to be intact when they open their season on Sunday against the visiting Washington Redskins.
This wasn’t always a given, but on Monday coach Doug Pederson said that right guard Brandon Brooks is among players recovering from injury that he expects to play.
Brooks tore his Achilles in that Jan. 13 playoff loss at New Orleans.
No unit relies more on cohesion than the offensive line. Even though the trend is to have players at all positions play less in the preseason, two of the Eagles’ linemen, Brooks and right tackle Lane Johnson (knee), didn’t appear in any preseason games and also missed participating in the majority of team drills.
Left tackle Jason Peters, center Jason Kelce and left guard Isaac Seumalo all appeared in one preseason game, each playing 18 snaps in the third contest against the Baltimore Ravens.
So it’s a legitimate question to ask if the unit has had enough time together leading up to the opener.
“Obviously in a perfect world, everybody would have been healthy, and we would have more reps, but it is what it is,” Kelce said after Monday’s practice. “We have played next to each other a lot.”
Kelce, a first-team All-Pro selection each of the last two years by the Associated Press, said getting Brooks back despite their lack of time together during the preseason is a major plus. Brooks has earned Pro Bowl honors each of the past two years.
“I certainly feel very comfortable playing next to Brandon Brooks, so I don’t really look at it like, ‘oh we didn’t get x amount of reps,’” Kelce said. “The reality is, this is the situation and Brandon is a really, really special player, just like a lot of guys on our line are.”
Johnson hurt his knee during camp, prior to the first preseason game. At the time of the injury, he was expected to return for the opener and that is indeed the case.
“I am feeling good,” Johnson said after practice. “Today was my first full-go practice and I feel good and am ready to go.”
Johnson was less concerned with continuity and more with facing the Redskins’ Ryan Kerrigan, who has 11.5 sacks in 16 career games against the Eagles.
“It (stinks),” Johnson said about going up against Kerrigan. “He is a guy who is relentless, who doesn’t stop and that is the mentality I am going up against. As far as going up against him, I have to match it.”
While there has been a lot of talk about the offensive line not having a lot of reps together leading up to the opener, Kelce was posed an opposite question.
Could it be a blessing in disguise that the offensive linemen will enter a season without a lot of wear and tear?
“Yes, I think that is why they probably didn’t play us (much in the preseason),” Kelce said. “There is more and more emphasis on keeping guys physically ready.”
Kelce said the lack of reps isn’t as detrimental with a seasoned offensive line such as the Eagles.
“We have a pretty good veteran group, especially on the offensive line,” Kelce said. “Now it is about kind of making us physically ready and keeping our legs fresh.”