In the aftermath of the Eagles’ victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday evening, an important development arose in practice this morning. Demetress Bell, the off-season acquisition signed to a 5 year $35 million dollar contract, has been demoted to the 2nd team and King Dunlap, yes…THAT King Dunlap, has been promoted to the starting left tackle. This is the first roster shake-up of the preseason, and while it would be significantly larger for other teams, the Eagles are fortuitous in that Michael Vick is left handed, and thus the right tackle, Todd Herremans, is the one responsible for covering Vick’s blind side.
King Dunlap became an instantly recognizable figure on the offensive line due to his enormous size, even for an NFL offensive lineman. Measured at 6’8 and 330 lbs, he is one of the biggest players in NFL history. Unfortunately, his play has not been as big, even though he came into the league with relatively low expectations from Auburn. Dunlap was selected in the 7th round in 2008 and has spent most his time as a backup, only filling in due to injuries on a makeshift offensive line.
While some might believe that this could be a poor roster move made by a desperate Andy Reid, I’m of the belief that the only way a player, as well as the team, will improve is through competition at each and every position. Andy Reid was quoted as saying, “There’s not a lot of separation between them and King deserves an opportunity,” as well as adding, “I just want to make sure everybody has his shot.” For King Dunlap, this move comes as a great opportunity to reaffirm his position as a Philadelphia Eagle. He was not re-signed until after Jason Peters injured his Achilles in the off-season but he has experience with this offense and can provide quality depth should Bell supplant him later this preseason.
For now, neither Bell nor Dunlap is accepting this roster move as an end to the competition. Both players are adamant that the depth chart is meaningless until week one of the regular season. The important aspect to remember is, as long as Vick remains healthy, which seems like a long shot, Dunlap or Bell merely protect the right side and not Vick’s blind side. However, if, and more like when, Vick misses time due to injury, the victor of this camp battle will be protecting the blind side of either Nick Foles or Mike Kafka. It is at that point that the spotlight will be focused on either Bell or Dunlap. As a fan of the underdog, my initial reaction to this has been, long live the King!