Allen Barbre is the Eagles’ starting left guard.
The 31-year-old offensive lineman started all 16 games at left guard in 2015, and as of Tuesday at OTAs, he was still a starter for Doug Pederson’s new-look offense.
But that could change.
There are several players pushing for the left guard spot. Among them are Stefen Wisniewski, Malcolm Bunche, Isaac Seumalo and Andrew Gardner.
“I definitely am trying to start somewhere,” said Wisniewski, a free-agent signing. “I think I would be a good starting left guard.”
Wisniewski, 27, signed a one-year prove-it deal in early April to join the Eagles (see story). After being taken in the second round of the 2011 draft, Wisniewski has started 77 of 80 possible games in the NFL. He clearly views himself as a starter in the NFL.
For the last two weeks, he’s been working with the second team at guard and center.
“Yeah, it’s weird. It’s definitely weird,” Wisniewski said. “I haven’t spent much time with the twos in five years. Probably a week or two. So it’s definitely different, but I’m just looking at it as a temporary thing, though.”
This offseason, the Eagles added veteran Brandon Brooks to play right guard, taking over for Matt Tobin, but Barbre is still slotted on the left side. In fact, to hammer the point home, the starting offensive linemen have their lockers in a row in the deep corner of the locker room, from left to right: Jason Peters, Barbre, Jason Kelce, Brooks, Lane Johnson.
So, as of late May, Barbre is still the starter.
“I really like where we're at. I like the depth at that position right now,” Pederson said last week. “But yeah, Allen Barbre is my guy and he's our starter.”
Wisniewski is the most accomplished of the backups pushing for that starting left guard spot, but he’s not alone.
Bunche, who was on the Eagles’ practice squad in 2015 after going undrafted out of UCLA, has been working with the second team at left guard during practice. And the second-year player thinks he has a shot at the starting job too.
“Oh yes. But not just that one,” Bunche said. “Throughout the season, anything can happen. That’s one thing that [offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland], he talks about it a lot, you never know when you’re number is going to be called. You just gotta stay in tune with what’s being called, the play-calling, the different techniques going into certain games. I feel I have an opportunity to take that spot if I wanted to. My mindset it to come in and get better each and every day.”
Another possible starting left guard isn’t with the team right now. Third-round pick Seumalo, from Oregon State, is back at school because of the NFL graduation rule and Oregon State’s quarters system. He would be a logical choice to compete for that starting job, but he’s missing valuable time at OTAs.
Meanwhile, Barbre, who had started just eight total games in his seven-year career before 2015, is trying to stave off his competitors. The veteran knows the team brought in a bunch of new offensive linemen this offseason (they have 17 on the roster). He just doesn’t care.
“Honestly, I wasn’t really worried about that,” Barbre said Tuesday. “Honestly, I thought I played fairly decent (in 2015), if you studied the film and you understood what went on. There was a lot of stuff that was tough on the O-line, so it made it kind of tough on us.”
The criticism of the offensive line last season was loud, especially criticism of the guard positions, but Barbre did his best to avoid it.
“I don’t even read it,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t even care. You guys got your jobs and I have my job. We all have different things we have to do.”
Right now, Barbre’s job is to hold onto that starting spot, while Wisniewski and the rest try to steal it away.