The Philadelphia Eagles have already lost two starts on their offensive line. Brandon Brooks tore his Achilles tendon in June and is expected to miss the season while Andre Dillard tore his biceps muscle last week and will miss the 2020 season. This leaves huge voids for the Eagles at right guard and left tackle. Philadelphia brought back Jason Peters to compensate for the loss of Brooks at right guard. When Dillard went down, most thought the natural move would have been to move Peters back to left tackle, but the Eagles have a different plan.
"I don't understand where some of these reports are coming from," Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said before practice Tuesday. "Jason Peters for us has done an outstanding job at right guard. He's comfortable at right guard. We have some options at left tackle that we're working through over there.
"It doesn't undermine anything. The fact that Jason has really embraced a new role for him, he's done it well. He's playing at a high level in what we've asked him to do there and he's comfortable. As you guys know, it's hard to disrupt too many positions with that offensive line. We've got a few more days here before we really get into regular season week to find out who that left tackle will be. But got some options over there."
For now, the Eagles won't move Peters over to left tackle even though that seems like the obvious move. Peterson admitted he would have a "private conversation" if he asked Peters to move from right guard back to left tackle, but the Eagles have 12 days to figure out of the other internal options are better than Peters. Remember, Philadelphia has to figure out its left tackle situation when Peters finally departs the franchise for good -- this year they were supposed to get a look at if Dillard was the answer.
These are the options the Eagles will consider at left tackle for 2020 if they decide to keep Peters at right guard:
Philadelphia drafted Johnson seven years ago at No. 4 overall to be the eventual heir apparent to Peters. Johnson ended up becoming arguably the best right tackle in football, and as elite pass rushers have started switching to both sides of the line over the last decade, right tackle is arguably just as valuable at left tackle.
Would the Eagles finally consider making the switch for good this time?
"Well, if you did that, who are you putting at right tackle? Are you going to put [Jack] Driscoll over there, (Matt) Pryor, (Jordan) Mailata over there? There are so many moving parts," Pederson said. "That's why it's so important for us as a team moving forward that we keep guys in their spots, work at their spots, and we figure out one position as opposed to figuring out two or three.
"Obviously, we've had these conversations in the past with Lane. But Lane is our right tackle. He's comfortable there."
The Eagles aren't moving three offensive linemen to start the season. Count Johnson out.
The Eagles initially had Pryor to fill in for Brooks at right guard before signing Peters. Pryor, who has only played the right side in the NFL, has been asked to play left tackle as one of the top internal options to replace Dillard. He played left tackle in Tuesday's practice and has struggled against the likes of Josh Sweat in the team's scrimmage. Pryor had a good camp at right guard, which is a much better fit for him in 2020.
"I don't make too much of it," Pederson said of Pryor's struggles at left tackle. "Pryor has been working right guard and right tackle. I believe this might have been the first time he's really had extensive left tackle work without any preparation or practice time.
"It's a great example of why you just don't move guys around at the spur of the moment. Matt Pryor is a guy that, once he gets all the work during the week, is a solid guard or tackle. He's proven that in the past for us. He'll settle in over there at the left side, and we'll be fine.
"The thing is if we end up moving too many spots, especially this late into camp, it can disrupt some timing up front. Those guys need to be in sync. For us to go out and put our best five up there, that's the plan, that's where we're going, that's where we're headed. We're going to get them all ready to play."
The Eagles' fourth-round pick had an excellent camp and played himself into the competition as the sixth offensive lineman in case a starter goes down (before Dillard's injury). Driscoll has a bright future with the Eagles, setting into the Halapoulivaati Vaitai role in year one in the NFL.
Asking Driscoll to play left tackle is too much on his plate, considering he has no NFL experience under his belt. He's best suited as a fill-in just in case Pryor or Peters goes down.
Mailata has done enough to earn playing time as a swing tackle, finally ready to showcase his potential to the Eagles after two injury-riddled seasons. He still hasn't played an NFL game yet. This job may be Mailata's if it wasn't for the injuries halting his development.