Weekend mailbag: Offensive line questions

A lovely, if a bit chilly, Saturday out here in the East. Let's take a dip in the mailbag and see what's happening.

Tom from Vegas wants to know about the job first-round pick Danny Watkins is doing with the Philadelphia Eagles since they made him the starting right guard in Week 5. Tom says he hasn't heard much about Watkins and figures, since he's an offensive lineman, that that's a good thing.

Dan Graziano: I'm sure there are other factors, but ESPN's Stats & Information Group sent some numbers the other day about the difference in the Eagles' offense since Watkins took over as the starter. They're averaging 6.3 yards per carry and 8.3 yards per pass attempt in three games with Watkins at right guard. They were picking up 5.4 yards per carry and 7.8 yards per pass while Kyle DeVan was playing the position. They're also 2-1 in those three games, which is of course the stat that matters most. Watkins grades out fairly well according to Pro Football Focus, which ranks him as the 14th-best right guard in the league so far this year in its analysis of individual performances by linemen. Watkins obviously wasn't ready to start right away after the shortened offseason, but sitting him down for those first four games appears to have helped.

Gene from DC wants to know when I'll start grading the Washington Redskins' Will Montgomery as a left guard instead of a center on the NFC East All-Division team, since he's been playing left guard ever since the season-ending injury to Kory Lichtensteiger.

DG: Well, Gene, the answer is that I already have. He just hasn't played well enough to take that left guard spot away from Philadelphia's Evan Mathis, who's been lights-out. And Montgomery's five-game body of work at center is still better than the full-season performance of anyone else in the division at that position so far. David Baas and Phil Costa have been disappointing, and while Jason Kelce is a major factor in that Philadelphia run game, his pass-blocking deficiencies have so far kept him from overtaking Montgomery for the spot. But you're right -- if Montgomery doesn't go back to center this year, eventually someone else will have to get the spot just because of his relative lack of snaps played there. Hasn't happened yet.

Joseph from Florida wonders if adding rookie Prince Amukamara to the cornerback mix Sunday (assuming he's healthy enough to play) would benefit the Giants, because the Patriots struggled against man coverage last week and Amukamara was a man-cover guy in college.

DG: Joseph, even if Amukamara is ready to play Sunday, my guess would be that the Giants would ease him into action a little bit more than that. I'm not sure they bring their rookie off foot surgery and just say, "Go ahead and cover Deion Branch." They're doing fine in the secondary with Corey Webster covering the other team's No. 1 wideout and Aaron Ross more than holding his own in coverage. Amukamara would add depth and allow Antrel Rolle to play safety instead of corner in nickel situations. And that would benefit them in a number of ways, not the least of which is that might allow them to bring Deon Grant back up toward the line and help with the run.

Finally, Vince DeBlasis from Philadelphia and several others wrote in with questions about this Thursday's post on Tony Romo and whether the Cowboys were reining him in and limiting his downfield throws. The chief criticism of the post is that it originally said Romo was averaging 6.9 yards per pass attempt this year when in fact the number is 7.8.

DG: This one's on me, folks. Those numbers came from the ESPN Stats & Information Group and I mis-translated them. The stat was not "yards per pass attempt" but rather "air yards per pass attempt," which I take to mean the average distance Romo's passes travel in the air before they are caught or fall incomplete. I have since gone back and edited the post so that the chart is correctly labeled, and I regret the error and any confusion that resulted from it.