Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Dunlap to start for injured Peters

King Dunlap said he knows what he has to do to be effective this Sunday against Atlanta in his first NFL start.

King Dunlap said he knows what he has to do to be effective this Sunday against Atlanta in his first NFL start.

"Got to get down low, with the rest of the world," Dunlap said yesterday, after Eagles coach Andy Reid announced that left tackle Jason Peters would undergo arthroscopic surgery for a meniscus tear in his left knee today. It's unclear how long Peters will be out - the 2 weeks before the Eagles' bye might be a good guess - but he definitely isn't playing this week.

Reid said Dunlap, a 2008 seventh-round pick, will step in, as he did when Peters went down early in last Sunday night's victory over San Francisco. Dunlap, listed at 6-9, 330, is the team's largest player, which isn't always an asset at left tackle, dealing with smaller, quicker defensive ends.

Dunlap was responsible for three sacks of Kevin Kolb in San Francisco (though Kolb said he deserved some blame for one of them). Dunlap, who also replaced Peters for a while at Detroit, seems to do well when he has his feet under him and can use his long, muscular arms to control pass rushers. He does not do well when defenders trick him, leave him grasping at air, or when they get leverage, forcing him upright.

"Just playing high," Dunlap said when asked what he saw on the tape that he could improve. "Playing high and not using my hands sometimes, missing with my hands. Being as tall as I am, I've got to work on playing a little lower. Keeping my butt down, keeping my head up, using my hands."

Dunlap has been a long-term project from the day he arrived, having lost his starting job at Auburn midway through his final season to a true freshman, partially because of an ankle problem that eventually required surgery, keeping Dunlap off the field his rookie year. Dunlap finally got to play a little last year, mostly in the Eagles' Oct. 18 loss to Oakland, when Peters left with knee and ankle injuries. When Peters missed the Nov. 15 loss at San Diego with an ankle sprain, and left the Dec. 6 victory at Atlanta early with head and shoulder injuries, the coaching staff moved guard Todd Herremans outside to tackle, rather than play Dunlap again.

Dunlap was asked what he learned from his trials last season.

"The speed and physicality of the game," he said. "I learned I needed to put some weight on. I can't play tackle at 305. I'd say being a little heavier now definitely has helped . . . Being that light, at that height, is not good for being in the league."

Dunlap said he actually is a little heavier now than the listed 330, "depending on how much I eat, how much I drink."

Dunlap has been watching tape, he said, of John Abraham, the Falcons' defensive end who has four sacks this season and 93 1/2 over his 11-year NFL career. If Kolb, likely to start again as Michael Vick recovers from a rib cartilage tear, is nervous about that matchup, he wasn't acknowledging it yesterday.

"I think he's going to do great. I thought he played a pretty good game last week," Kolb said. "One of [the sacks] I could have helped him with. Shoot, coming cold off the bench, tackle's a hard position to play. We've all got to help out with the sack issue."

Center Mike McGlynn, who played well against the 49ers, talked about the value of experience. "I'm five times more confident than I was 4 weeks ago," McGlynn said. It was hard not to apply his words to Dunlap's situation, though McGlynn said that Dunlap has gotten more snaps than McGlynn had under his belt when the season began. Before this year, McGlynn, a 2008 fourth-round pick, had played only on special teams.

"We're all confident in King. He'll come in and do the job," McGlynn said.

Right tackle Winston Justice, who also struggled early in his career, agreed.

"Thrown into a tough situation, sometimes you get beat," Justice said. "The more confidence you have at a position, the better you'll be at it. Confidence and technique."

Justice said he thinks Dunlap has been taught well by offensive-line coach Juan Castillo, and ought to be able to counter smaller players getting leverage.

"He is tall," Justice noted, "and he is awkward-looking. But still."

Catching on

Tight end Brent Celek, who hauled in only three of the nine passes thrown to him Sunday against an aggressive San Francisco defense, said: "They're tough catches, but they're catches I've made in the past, and I should be making them now. There's no excuse for me not to make them."

Pressed on why he hasn't been as sure-handed as usual this season, Celek said: "I've got a bruised wrist, but that doesn't stop me from catching the ball." *