It has been a strange, disconnected year for everyone on the Eagles’ offensive line, which will extend its league record Sunday when it sends its 13th different starting combination in 14 games out against the host Arizona Cardinals.
Exhibit A might be Matt Pryor, who will get his second start of the season at right tackle, two weeks after rookie Jack Driscoll replaced Pryor, who was replacing Lane Johnson.
The Eagles thought they were about to settle into an O-line rhythm with Driscoll, after he played well in their upset of New Orleans, only to discover that the knee injury Driscoll played with last Sunday actually was too severe to allow him to play again this season.
So, back to Pryor, who started six games at right guard and practiced in the preseason at left tackle. Except for a short October stint on the COVID-19 restricted list, Pryor has been healthy. He just hasn’t been able to keep a spot.
“It’s been a roller coaster.,” Pryor said Thursday. “Some things were unexpected. Some weren’t. But at the same time, you’re supposed to take advantage of whatever opportunity you get, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do all year.”
This week, Pryor will have a tough matchup against a shifting Cardinals front and former Temple star Haason Reddick, from Haddon Heights, who last week notched five sacks at the Giants. Pryor said the Eagles have some sleek, quick pass rushers on their scout team who try to mimic opponents’ styles, and he thinks he is prepared.
But Pryor’s previous start at tackle, in the Eagles’ loss to Seattle, did not go well.
“I was disappointed in my performance. I hadn’t played tackle in a while, in a live game. [I was] just getting that repetition in, and readjusting to the difference between going from inside to outside,” Pryor said. “It was only a couple plays, but it only takes that one little mishap, and the whole play goes down the drain. But you know, I’ve been improving on that since then,” Pryor said.
“Nobody expects that during a season,” he said, when asked about the 13 different alignments. “It’s a very aggressive game. People get hurt. Things happen. You just kind of plan for the worst, and you’re ready for it.”
Slay inches closer to return
The Eagles listed corner Darius Slay as a limited practice participant Thursday, as he recovers from a concussion suffered against the Saints. Slay did not practice Wednesday. This would indicate that Slay is moving through the NFL concussion protocol, and might be close to being cleared to play at Arizona, against DeAndre Hopkins.
Safety Grayland Arnold and corner Michael Jacquet, both sidelined by hamstring injuries, also were limited participants. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz would like to have them to reinforce his depleted secondary.
Another hamstring sufferer, safety Rudy Ford, practiced fully. Ford missed the last three games.