September 10 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Les Bowen
“THE EAGLES‘ offensive line is staying on the field for extra work this week, trying to accomplish what didn’t get done in training camp – meshing, drilling as a unit, working out the lines of communication and contingency.
If you want to put your finger on the most likely problem area heading into the opener, Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field against the favored Green Bay Packers, this would be it. Center Jamaal Jackson and right guard Nick Cole didn’t play in the preseason, Jackson recovering from ACL surgery a little more than 8 months ago, Cole because of “knee soreness.” Left guard Todd Herremans, trying not to overtax his problematic left foot, played just a quarter in the preseason. If Cole had played, it would have been at center, because Stacy Andrews was the right guard until the Eagles traded him to Seattle last week.
People who have been watching the Eagles through those sun-blasted days at Lehigh up through yesterday, when a chilly wind at NovaCare brought sweaters and jackets to mind, seem less concerned about Kevin Kolb, embarking on his first season as the starting QB, than about what’s in front of Kolb.
“That’s what we’re working for right now,” right tackle Winston Justice said yesterday, when asked if the unit was ready to play well together, opening the season against the NFL’s second-ranked defense from a year ago. “That’s what we’re striving for, we’re striving for that perfection. Sometimes you don’t attain it, but I think eventually, we’ll get there.”
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was asked about getting the o-line up to speed.
“Well, I think that’s the key,” Mornhinweg said. “They’ve played a lot of winning snaps together and now they’re standing, so we’ll keep a close eye on that. Other than that, they’re very good in their preparation and they’re putting their hard work in. With their recent past history and then this week, I would expect them to play at a high level.”
That didn’t happen with the various permutations the Eagles fielded in the preseason. Opponents got pass-rush pressure up the middle, forcing Kolb to backpedal. Blitzers swooped in untouched; the o-line, the tight ends and running backs didn’t seem to be sure who was blocking whom.
“We’re going to handle our business,” fullback Leonard Weaver said. “We’re going to do the blitz pickup like we’re supposed to. We’re ready for it, we’re expecting it.”
Herremans said the line wants to block better in short yardage than it did in 2009, but “the big thing that hit us last year was we made some ‘mentals,’ quite a few ‘mentals’ along the way, where there was one person coming through unblocked,” Herremans said. “Staying focused on our tasks and knowing what each other is doing – I think that was our weak spot last year.””
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