Aug 11, 2012, 3:29 PM EDT
So much for a pair of Plan B’s, for now anyway. Signed in the offseason to replace the injured Jason Peters at left tackle, Demetress Bell has already dropped on the depth chart in favor of King Dunlap. Meanwhile, backup quarterback Mike Kafka is going to miss time due to a fracture in his non-throwing hand, perhaps opening the door for rookie Nick Foles to swoop in and steal the job.
The Bell news is something of a surprise, despite what has been described as a relatively poor performance in the preseason opener against Pittsburgh. That said, he only participated in six snaps, which is about as small a sample size as there is, and he’s learning a new system, so some bumps in the road are to be expected. Reuben Frank theorizes the benching may be an attempt to light a fire under Bell.
Still, the drop-off from Peters was noticeable on Thursday night, especially on LeSean McCoy’s first run of the game. Bell looked slow and couldn’t find anybody to block as Shady tried to gain the left edge — he was eventually pushed out of bounds for a loss. As we’ve noted before, the Eagles excelled in runs off tackle to the left side in 2011.
That’s where Dunlap seemingly could hold an advantage over Bell. King seems to be the more athletic of the two, and he already spent a year working under Howard Mudd. Dunlap is often criticized by fans, but he’s been a serviceable backup the past couple seasons, starting seven games. Time will tell whether there is a real competition for the job though.
As for Kafka, he too failed to impress in his outing, which may have turned out to be his only chance to shine this preseason. The fracture occurred during the game when his hand was stepped on, and early estimates have him missing three weeks. Kafka can still throw the ball obviously, but he won’t be able to take snaps.
The injury elevates Nick Foles to number two behind Michael Vick for the time being, but he looked very impressive in the exhibition. You have to wonder if a strong preseason would be enough to earn Foles that spot, even if he is a rookie. I would have said no chance previously, but Foles suddenly has a lot more opportunities to prove to coaches he can handle the role.
Kafka was 5/9 for 31 yards and an interception on Thursday. Foles was 6/10 for 144 yards and two touchdowns in his debut. Trent Edwards was 12/20 for 106 yards and a score in mop-up duty, but doesn’t seem to be much of a factor in the Eagles quarterback equation.
The good news is Michael Vick returned to practice on Saturday after bumping his thumb, but there is legit concern he will miss time at some point this season, so the unsettled situation behind him is troubling.
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