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Injuries force another shakeup on Eagles line
Question of the Day
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - With a must-win game looming in Washington on Sunday, the Eagles are facing a potential offensive line shortage.
Starting left tackle Jason Peters is out indefinitely with a hamstring injury he suffered in a loss to the 49ers two weeks ago, and his replacement, 6-foot-9 King Dunlap, missed a second consecutive day of practice Friday because of back spasms.
The two injuries have left the Eagles with only two healthy offensive tackles _ Todd Herremans, the usual right tackle, and Winston Justice, who missed all of training camp because of offseason knee surgery and hasn’t played all year.
Coach Andy Reid said after practice Friday that if Dunlap’s back spasms don’t abate by Sunday, Herremans will start against the Redskins at left tackle _ where he hasn’t played since 2005 _ and Justice will make his first start since undergoing major offseason knee surgery.
“We don’t,” Herremans said, “have too many other options right now.”
Reid said Dunlap injured his back on the final play of practice Wednesday. He’s now questionable.
“We were doing a two-minute drill, non-contact,” Reid said, “and he came out of his stance and it locked up on him.”
Dunlap attended part of Friday’s practice in the team’s indoor bubble but did not participate.
Reid said if Dunlap’s back spasms go away, he’ll be fine to play, despite missing the last two days of practice.
“King’s a smart kid, so I don’t think that would necessarily be a problem,” he said. “I want to make sure he feels all right before we do that, but I think he would be OK.”
Herremans has four career starts at left tackle, all during 2006, his rookie year. He spent the last four years at left guard before moving to right tackle just before this year’s opener.
“I know the technique, I know the steps I’m supposed to take and everything, it’s just getting my body used to being on that side,” Herremans said. “I got used to being over on the right again and now getting switched up. But the main thing is we want to get our five best guys out there, whatever arrangement we have, and go out there and win the game.”
The Eagles (1-4) face the Redskins (3-1) Sunday at FedEx Field. No team has opened a season 1-5 and reached the playoffs since the 1975 Bengals.
Justice missed all of training camp and most of the preseason while rehabbing his knee. He started practicing on Sept. 5 but hasn’t played on offense since last year’s playoff game against the Packers.
“It seems like every week he’s getting a little bit better and feeling more comfortable,” Reid said. “He deserves the opportunity to play if that presents itself.”
Justice said he’s put in extra time over the past few weeks with new offensive line coach Howard Mudd, whose scheme is dramatically different than what Justice played in under former offensive line coach Juan Castillo, now the team’s defensive coordinator.
“It’s always a little bit uncomfortable at first to try something new,” he said. “But I think I feel comfortable.”
Justice has 32 career starts, 31 of them at right tackle and one at left tackle.
“He’s been out there getting scout team reps for a couple weeks now, so I think he’s getting more and more comfortable,” Herremans said. “Running with the first team over there at right tackle (is) probably a good confidence builder for him. It looks like he’s got his punch and everything still. He looks comfortable.”
Reid said if Dunlap is unable to play, and either Herremans or Justice get hurt during the game, left guard Evan Mathis would move to right tackle, and Jamaal Jackson would likely move in at left guard.
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