Take it with a grain of salt. Everyone in the NFL today is high on their team's new season's prospects. If you were the owner of a team, would you want to hear anything different? For example, the Cincinnati Bengals are loving the adulation and applause they're getting for a great 2013 draft—and yet they have proven nothing of any great significance in their divisional competition for a long time.
Eagles center (rehabbing from a knee injury) Jason Kelce is no different. While Dallas Reynolds filled in for him at this week's OTA's, here's what Kelce had to say about the Eagles' O-Line:
"It can be the best offensive line in the NFL…"
Kelce, just seven months removed from ACL surgery, was on the field with his teammates at Organized Team Activities (OTA's) this week. But he spent most of practice standing around and avoiding any sort of contact.
Kelce expects to be more involved in June's mandatory team minicamps, doing everything except team drills where there is the possibility of players falling and landing on his rehabbing knee. The third-year pro believes he'll be full-go come training camp.
"Biggest thing now is that the strength is almost there," Kelce said. "When I'm out there I don't really notice it when I'm in the thick of things. But the tendon/ligament, I guess it's both, it's still not as strong as it will be at nine months. You just don't want anyone rolling on it or falling on it."
The nine-month mark will be mid-July. The Eagles open training camp later that month. As long as Kelce continues to progress, there is no reason to believe he won't be green-lighted. As thing currently stand, he's scheduled to be cleared the day before training camp begins.
"He's been fantastic, been there every day working his tail off," head coach Chip Kelly said. "He did almost everything in phase two [of practice], so he's running around doing a lot of things."
Kelly's offense will benefit greatly if Kelce, Mathis, Jason Peters and Herremans play on the same offensive line for the first time in over 19 months. The core of the Eagles' offensive line hasn't been on the field together since Week 17 of the 2011 season. Peters missed all of last year with an Achilles injury and Herremans was sidelined late last season with a foot injury.
A healthy Jason Peters (# 71), LT, 6-4, 340, 9th year out of Arkansas, would go a long way to making Kelce's prediction come true….
"We're very excited," Kelce said. "There is a new piece in Lane Johnson, but I felt that two years ago we had really come together at the end of the season, we were really excited for last year and then it seemed that everybody went down. I think when this line is healthy and everybody is there we have a very dominant offensive line. We're looking forward to that."
An improved offensive line should make for an improved offense. It should make the quarterback better, the wide receivers better, the running game better. It should make scoring points easier. Ah, if only life were that simple! Too bad something always seems to go wrong, and the monkey wrench gets thrown into the OL gears…
Someone's going to get hurt on the O-Line sooner than later. Maybe Jason Peters doesn't bounce back the way he wants to… Despite what Kelce says from his heart, I feel a major need of the Eagles to stockpile a few experienced NFL O-linemen as backup plans.
But now, here is the TWO-DEEP OFFENSE depth chart as compiled by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com, who put forth the proposition that if the regular season started tomorrow, here would be your positional "2-Deep" active players:
1. Michael Vick
1a. Nick Foles
2. Matt Barkley
Analysis: Foles and Vick really did split first-team reps. Barkley, a fourth-round pick last month, was already ahead of Dennis Dixon.
1. LeSean McCoy
2. Bryce Brown
Analysis: McCoy and Brown were in the backfield together quite often during practice.
1. Jeremy Maclin
2a. Jason Avant
2b. Arrelious Benn
Analysis: Benn begins his Eagles career in the primary wide receiver rotation, ahead of holdover Riley Cooper.
1. DeSean Jackson
2. Damaris Johnson
Analysis: Johnson looks like insurance for Jackson.
1. Brent Celek
1a. James Casey
2. Clay Harbor
2. Zach Ertz
Analysis: The tight ends will also double as fullbacks. Casey looked good at practice, catching everything in his direction even if the ball was thrown at his knees or feet. It's hard to know exactly where Ertz stands. Due to NFL rules he is not currently with the team.
1. Jason Peters
2. Ed Wang
Analysis: Peters is back and looks healthy. The Eagles seem high on Wang.
1. Evan Mathis
2. Danny Watkins
Analysis: Mathis is out for OTAs/minicamp with an ankle injury. Watkins gets perhaps his last chance to shine.
1. Jason Kelce
2. Dallas Reynolds
Analysis: Kelce is limited in practice until training camp. Reynolds worked with the first team.
1. Todd Herremans
2. Danny Watkins
Analysis: Herremans officially switched from right tackle to guard after the selection of Lane Johnson. It moves Watkins to the bench.
1. Dennis Kelly
2. Lane Johnson
Analysis: The Eagles are just bringing along Johnson slowly. He should work his way up the depth chart by training camp.