Philadelphia Eagles: What Should We Expect from Patchwork Offensive Line?

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistSeptember 19, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Quarterback Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles makes a pass as teammate Dallas Reynolds #66 blocks Maake Kemoeatu #96 of the Baltimore Ravens as Haloti Ngata #92 close in during a game at Lincoln Financial Field on September 16, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Ravens 24-23. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles lost 40 percent of their offensive line Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, and one of those losses is out for the remainder of the year with center Jason Kelce suffering a season-ending knee injury. 

With left tackle King Dunlap also going down in Week 2 and missing practice Wednesday, there's a decent chance Philadelphia will again be without two starting offensive linemen this Sunday in Arizona.

Considering that Dunlap was only starting because All-Pro regular Jason Peters suffered a ruptured Achilles in the offseason (and that this line was already less-than-crisp when it came to pass protection), there are some who are fearing the worst going forward.

The good news is that replacements Dallas Reynolds and Demetress Bell held up well in place of Kelce and Dunlap last week. 

Neither linemen made any significant mistakes, and Reynolds' snaps were good. He's apparently ready to help make pre-snap pass protection calls, too. 

"It wasn't as tough as I thought it was going to be," Reynolds said of his debut, via the Philadelphia Inquirer. "You didn't really have much time to think of anything, just going in and start snapping."

But he's had plenty of time to think now, so it'll be interesting to see how the 28-year-old performs as a starter. I don't doubt he'll be prepared, though, because he's spent the last three years mastering Howard Mudd's system as a practice squad player.

As for Bell, he's been inconsistent and injury prone over his four-year career, but the former Buffalo Bill is coming off a career year. That's why he signed a fairly lucrative contract to replace Peters in the offseason.

He came along slowly, though, and was beaten in camp by Dunlap, who was also more familiar with Mudd's system as a four-year veteran reserve who performed well in spot duty in the past.

Reid has already said, via CBS Sports, that it would be a stretch for Dunlap to play against the Cardinals, so it looks as though Bell will make his first start alongside Reynolds as well as mainstays Evan Mathis, Danny Watkins and Todd Herremans. 

Against the Ravens, Bell was without help on fewer than a dozen passing plays. But one such instance was almost disastrous. That came on the first play of Philadelphia's game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, when tight end Brent Celek took off, leaving Bell to contend with Courtney Upshaw.

Bell was trucked out of the way by Pernell McPhee on a stunt, which gave Upshaw a clear path to Michael Vick

Mathis took care of Upshaw, but Bell was manhandled by McPhee, who got to Vick a split-second too late. Vick hit DeSean Jackson for a first down to start the drive, avoiding a disastrous opening play that would have put the Eagles in a very bad spot.

But he held his ground against Upshaw on the next play, which led to a 24-yard completion to Celek. 

He was also strong facing Jameel McClain during a blitz on play No. 3.

And then on a big third down later in the drive, Bell again handled Upshaw on his own, leading to another completion as the Eagles marched down the field. 

It's encouraging that the Eagles displayed confidence in Bell as the game wore on, and he delivered. Reynolds also held up in pass protection and as a run blocker, so Philly fans can step back from the ledge. This team can survive these losses.