As most teams are finalizing their preparations for the opening game of the season, the Eagles continue to make last minute tweaks. Earlier they announced the contract extension of linebacker Akeem Jordan, then the re-signing of cornerback Joselio Hanson (that sound you hear is an underpaid wide receiver pimp slapping his agent). Now the team has made yet another change, a pretty big one, to their offensive line.
The Eagles have benched rookie first round pick Danny Watkins, replaced in the starting lineup at right guard by the recently acquired Kyle DeVan. Per Reuben Frank, DeVan is taking first team reps and head coach Andy Reid won’t actually say who the starter is. That means it’s DeVan, since Watkins had previously been declared the starter from day one.
Watkins himself won’t comment, saying he’s not allowed to talk about it.
“He doesn’t really want us talking about it,” Watkins said when asked about getting benched. “I’m not going to get into that.”
With the way that Watkins has played, saying himself that the transition to the NFL has been “overwhelming”, the move is far from a surprise. With DeVan’s experience playing right guard in Howard Mudd’s blocking schemes, the writing was kind of on the wall.
It’s obviously a setback for Watkins as well as the Eagles, who were banking on the 26 year-old to step in and play from day one. At that age and with the Eagles burning a first round pick on a position like guard, anything less than immediate high end results is pretty much unacceptable.
Of course, Watkins was put at a major disadvantage by having no offseason due to the lockout, but that doesn’t give him a free pass if he just can’t play. For now, the Eagles think DeVan will give them a more solid presence. For their dreams of a Super Bowl to happen, they have to put their best team out there. Right now, that means the bench for Watkins and a guy picked up only a few days ago will be starting in Week 1.
Then again, the previous version of the starting offensive line hasn’t played a single snap together as a unit, so DeVan isn’t necessarily too far behind. And at least he knows the schemes. Still, hopefully backup quarterback Vince Young’s hamstring is healed up.