Jason Peters Ruptures Achilles: Can King Dunlap Hold Down the Fort?

Manav KhandelwalAnalyst IIMarch 31, 2012

After being re-signed to a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, backup offensive tackle King Dunlap said the following in an interview with Philly.com: "Everyone wants a crack at starting, but injuries happen, and as the sixth man, I have to be ready." Dunlap is either prophetic or a really good guesser.

Only hours after he made that statement, the Eagles received news from Jason Peters' camp in Texas that the Pro Bowler had ruptured his Achilles, putting his status for the 2012 season in question.

Of course, this sparked a media frenzy surrounding the Eagles, seeing as they had just lost the best offensive tackle in pro football, at least according to Pro Football Focus.

As expected, part of this post-injury frenzy included opinions and projections in regards to possible replacements for the maligned star. Even some of my colleagues here at the Bleacher Report have started to list possible tackles the Eagles could bring in to save face.

However, I don't think Philadelphia's front office has to look very far to find their replacement left tackle.

In my opinion, the answer to the question posed in the headline of this piece is an absolute "yes." Many Eagles fans think King Dunlap is a joke, due to his early struggles in 2010, but I encourage my fellow fanatics to dig a little deeper.

At the end of the 2010 season, and all of 2011, Dunlap finally started to refine his technique and added much-needed depth to the offensive line. He can use his size—he is one of the tallest linemen to ever play the game—to manhandle ends in the run game, use his strength to ward off pass-rushers, and use his new-found agility to be an overall force.

Anyone who wants to ridicule Dunlap is still living in the past; November 2010, to be exact. Under the tutelage of offensive line coach Howard Mudd, Dunlap has become one of the most versatile and effective backups in the NFL, and can easily make the transition to starter, a role he's played seven times over the last two seasons.

This brings me to the crux of my argument: Dunlap is extremely familiar with this offense. In fact, he's started six games at tackle over the last two seasons, and replacing Peters is a job he's quite comfortable with.

As such, it means it won't take weeks for Dunlap to get accustomed to the Eagles offense. On the flip side, even with a full training camp, a new acquisition simply would not understand the scheme as well as King. And judging from last season's calamity, a slow start in 2012 would be a death blow to Philadelphia's postseason chances.

Why bring in a new face when you have royalty at your disposal? King Dunlap can and will hold down the fort in 2012.

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