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Tip Sheet notes: Eagles solid up front

Well-built offensive line should keep new starter Kolb well-protected in 2010

Originally Published: April 9, 2010
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com
The megatrade that sent Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins on Easter left Kevin Kolb as the Philadelphia Eagles' starting quarterback, and one concern the three-year veteran probably won't have is playing behind a shoddy line.

Kolb, who has just two career starts, could have some problems up the middle, where incumbent center Jamaal Jackson will not be ready for the start of the regular campaign because he is still recovering from a late-season torn ligament. That means guard Nick Cole, who was manhandled by Dallas in the playoffs when he slid over into the middle, likely will play the position instead.

But even if the Philly offensive line isn't as good as it was a few years ago -- left guard Todd Herremans figures to be the one starter from the unit that opened the 2007 season -- coach Andy Reid and line assistant Juan Castillo, one of the best in the league, always seem to make things work.

"We like big guys," Reid, a former college offensive lineman, acknowledged at the NFL meetings last month in Orlando, Fla. "You can't get enough of them."

That's obvious from the way Philadelphia has drafted under Reid's direction. Since he arrived in 1999, the Eagles have exercised 92 selections, and 20 of them have been offensive linemen. In recent years, the Eagles have added skill-type players such as wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin and tailback LeSean McCoy, but they haven't ignored the offensive line.

Castillo has rebuilt the unit with young players such as tackles Jason Peters (albeit acquired in a trade) and Winston Justice as well as guards Max Jean-Gilles and Cole.

Kolb expects the trend to continue.

"We take care of the trenches, and I don't think that will change," Kolb said.

In addition to the 20 offensive linemen, the Eagles have chosen 16 defensive linemen under Reid's stewardship. So there has been a real emphasis on the line of scrimmage, and that model is likely to continue.

Looking for a sleeper pick with the Eagles' slot at No. 24 in the first round? Don't bet against Maurkice Pouncey of Florida, the top-rated center prospect, who most teams feel also can play guard. And don't bet against the always active Eagles, who own the second-most picks in the draft (11), moving up in the first round to take a lineman.

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