Everything seemed to finally be clicking with the offensive line heading into opening game on Sunday. That was true until offensive tackle Shawn Andrews reinjured his back in practice yesterday.
Andrews sat out of practice today and half of yesterday because of a sore lower back. The injury kept him out of playing the entire training camp and preseason. It was reported on ESPN.com that Andrews will not play against Carolina on Sunday. Winston Justice will start in his place.
On the same day that the injury occured, the Eagles worked out veteran offensive tackle Jon Runyan. The former Eagle is attempting to make a comeback after offseason knee surgery. It is evident that the Eagles front offense is getting a little antsy about Andrews’ health and are desperate to make moves to secure depth at the offensive line.
Runyan knows the offense and has been a leader on the line for nine seasons. However, the signing of Runyan would come with a lot of baggage. If the ‘Birds sign him before Sunday, which is highly unlikely, then they would have to pay his full base salary. But what other options do the Eagles have?
My main concern is the health of Andrews. I criticized him time and again about his injuries and then he answered by making a comeback. However, he is not doing a good job convincing people that he is ready for an NFL game. He has not played in a full game since the teams second game last season. That’s 14 regular season games, an entire postseason and this year’s preseason. Back injuries are one of the worst injuries for an offensive lineman, considering how much pushing and quick movement is involved using the lower back.
Now the Eagles are left in a very tough spot. With Todd Herremans out for the first few weeks of the season, Philadelphia is now missing two starters on the offensive line. Not to mention Jason Peters and Stacy Andrews have not practiced much because they both rehabbed injuries for most of training camp. Even though Winston Justice has looked a lot better in preseason, there is always the fear of him collapsing again. I don’t think I need to remind any Eagles fans of the Giants game last season.
Sunday will be a big test for the offensive line. Questions of health and depth will truly be answered against the Panthers.