WITH 50 PERCENT of the preseason precincts reporting, the Daily News has declared a winner in the Eagles' starting right-guard race.

Andrew Gardner has beaten out runners-up Matt Tobin and John Moffitt; Julian Vandervelde was kind of the Lindsey Graham of this race and never really was a serious candidate. And unless he gets pancaked by that Legionnaire's disease outbreak that Chip Kelly keeps referencing or steps in a rut at Lambeau Field tomorrow night and turns an ankle, he will take his place between center Jason Kelce and right tackle Lane Johnson in 17 days when the Eagles open the season against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.

Anybody who has been paying the slightest bit of attention to the situation at right guard could see this coming.

Gardner, who started eight games last season - including six at right guard after Todd Herremans went down - is expected to make his third start of the preseason there tomorrow when the Eagles face the Packers in Green Bay. He's been quietly consistent since the start of training camp, which basically means he hasn't stepped in any big piles of manure.

Moffitt, the 2011 third-round pick of the Seahawks who was out of football for most of the last two years before signing with the Eagles in late June, still is playing catch-up, both mentally and physically, and isn't ready to be the season-opening starter. Two months from now, if he's still on the roster, maybe it's a different story.

"It's been an adjustment," said Moffitt, who made 15 starts for the Seahawks in 2011-12, 11 of them at right guard. "But it's starting to come along now.

"As well as the mental [part], it's been the physical. Getting my body back in condition. Especially this kind of condition. It's been a process. But it feels good. It feels like I'm starting to play ball like myself again."

Moffitt, who signed a one-year, $660,000 contract, has played 106 snaps in the first two preseason games, all at right guard. Most of his practice reps also have been at right guard.

"He's looked good," Kelce said. "Obviously he's been out of football for a while. So he's still getting back into playing shape and everything. But he has a lot of raw ability.

"There have been mistakes here and there. But nothing major. Most of the time, it's not physical. Most of the time it's poor technique or something like that."

Tobin is more athletic than Gardner and seemingly a better fit for the Eagles' zone-blocking scheme. But he struggled in a big way last season when he was moved to right guard.

He had never played on the right side - not at Iowa, where he started 22 games at left guard and left tackle, not even in high school.

He started five games at left guard last season after Evan Mathis injured a knee and did pretty well.

But he was switched to right guard in Week 10 against Carolina after Herremans got hurt, and well, Houston we have a problem.

"I went [to right guard] against Carolina and was just in there," Tobin said. "I wasn't playing real well. After that, I started at right guard against Green Bay. We watched the tape of that this week. You could just tell [I was struggling]. My hips were flipped. I was playing left guard on the right side. It's not good when you do that.

"Being as I played the left side my entire life, you kind of lean to your right when you play the left side. If you lean to your right when you're playing the right side, you're not inside-out of the players [you're trying to block]."

Tobin said he's much more comfortable on the right side now than he was last year, mainly because of all the reps he has taken there, both in camp and in the spring OTAs.

Judging by the way the coaches have been using him, they seem to be grooming him to be the top inside-outside sub rather than the starting right guard.

Tobin has played 107 snaps in the first two preseason games, most of them at the two tackle spots.

"I've been moving all over the place," he said. "I've pretty much played all four spots [excluding center]. At one point, I played four different spots in four days.

"I've just kind of embraced my role. Kind of don't try and figure out what it is and just do the best I can. And now that they're moving me around, just try to get comfortable at all four spots."

All of Tobin's practice reps this week were at right tackle. But yesterday, he was informed he would be playing left tackle against the Packers.

"That's the way it goes," he said. "Obviously you want to start. That's the main goal. But if you're a backup on the offensive line, you need to be able to play more than one position. And it helps a lot if you can play four."

It's not clear where all of this leaves Moffitt. The Eagles stress versatility in their backup offensive linemen. They need to be able to play inside (guard) and outside (tackle) or guard and center.

Because he signed so late (June 29), the Eagles didn't want to put too much on Moffitt's plate. He has played almost exclusively at right guard in camp and the preseason. He played center along with guard at Wisconsin, but hasn't taken any reps at center since signing with the Eagles.

"I think that's kind of a part of just letting me get used to the system, get used to playing ball again," Moffitt said. "Knocking the rust off. It's been a while.

"I'm thankful they've given me the opportunity to work my craft at one position. It's been nice."

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