Keeping Michael Vick on the football field is a high priority for the Philadelphia Eagles. Their defensive unit looks markedly improved, and with all their skill position talent on offense, letting Mike be Mike and keeping him upright would seem to be a logical formula for success. So far, so good. Not pretty. But 2-0 is 2-0 in the National Football League, and the Eagles' quarterback will start his third straight game Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
Slight problem. The unit that is charged with keeping Vick on the field and out of the trainer's room has started their own wing in that very trainer's room.
The Eagles' offensive line was projected to be one of the better lines in the NFL. They were big, agile, road grating for crowned superstar LeSean McCoy's darting and weaving running style. And then left tackle Jason Peters tore his Achilles tendon before the Birds ever got to camp at Lehigh University. Strike one All-Pro left tackle from the list.
The Eagles brought in Demetress Bell from the Buffalo Bills to replace Peters. He's been a bust. King Dunlap has been serviceable at the position, but he will miss Week 3 with a hamstring strain. Bell will get his shot.
One of the biggest, positive surprises of the 2011 season was the emergence of rookie center Jason Kelce. His ability to take over all the line calls so quickly, along with his knack for getting out in front of McCoy in the run blocking scheme gave the Eagles a signal caller on the o-line for years to come. Except, not this year. Kelce will miss the rest of the season with a torn MCL, and partially torn ACL.
Kelce's injury opens up an opportunity for fourth-year center Dallas Reynolds. Reynolds spent the maximum three season on the Eagles' practice squad before making the 53-man roster this season. When Kelce went down in the third quarter of Sunday's 24-23 win over the Baltimore Ravens, Reynolds immediately took over all the o-line calls. He also appeared to do a decent job in the second half.
With the offensive line in tatters, nagging injuries to the wide receiving corp and a quarterback trying to find his identity, it suddenly looks like the Eagles' defense may have to carry them.
Pete Lieber is a freelance writer and a Philadelphia sports enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter at @Lieber14.