The bad news came down on Tuesday morning, and that it was sort of expected doesn't help to soften the blow any. A scope revealed the partial tear of Jason Kelce's ACL will require surgery after all, knocking the second-year center out for the remainder of this season.
The Eagles turn now turn to 6-4, 320-lbs. Dallas Reynolds to anchor the middle of their offensive line. The 28 year old participated in his first NFL game when he relieved Kelce in the third quarter on Sunday, and actually performed quite well. How he will respond over the course of a full season is anybody's guess.
Center injuries are nothing new for the Birds. In fact, this is the third season out of four the starter has wound up on injured reserve.
In 2009, Jamaal Jackson suffered a torn ACL in their Week 16 game against the Denver Broncos. Nick Cole slid over from right guard to replace Jackson, and in his place was a juggling act between Stacy Andrews and Max Jean-Gilles. The line predictably wilted, as Donovan McNabb was sacked four times in back-to-back losses to the Cowboys to euthanize the season.
Jackson was miraculously healthy in time to play in the season opener the following season, but his good fortune would not last. This time it was a torn triceps that knocked him out for the year in Week 1. Mike McGlynn held down the job the rest of the way, but the line never gelled, and he was allowed to walk once it was over.
Now one year after Kelce beat out Jackson for the job, the Eagles are right back in the same situation. The good news is there is a comfort level with Reynolds, who has been trying to make this team since his arrival as an undrafted free agent from BYU in '09. Reynolds was waived initially, but later added to the practice squad that October, and would go on to work with the scout team for the last three years. With his practice squad eligibility used up, Reynolds finally earned a spot on the 53-man roster at this summer's training camp.
At this point, nobody has the answer to whether Reynolds will be the solution or not, but after spending so many years in the organization, the coaching staff should have a pretty good idea about what they're working with, what his strengths and weaknesses are. And if Sunday was any kind of indication, so far, so good.
We can pose other questions about the situation though, like who is the backup to the backup?
In the event Reynolds is not up to the task, the Eagles re-signed Steve Vallos, who spent this summer at Lehigh. A seventh-round pick of the Seahawks in '07, Vallos started eight games in two years on the roster before his release. He moved on to Cleveland for two seasons, where he was used as depth.
Interestingly enough, Jamaal Jackson is still a free agent after a strange offseason. Jackson spent one day with the Giants in May before he left and the club announced his retirement, which he quickly refuted. The Cowboys also kicked his tires, but obviously did not make the move. The Eagles haven't shown any intentions of giving their ex a call either, at least for now.
The other question is how it will impact Michael Vick at the line of scrimmage, but according to Andy Reid, Reynolds made all the line calls when he entered the game. The blocking did not falter with Reynolds and just a short time after Demetress Bell inserted into the lineup, so he seemed to be alright with that aspect of the position as well.
Where the Eagles go from here still remains to be seen though. In the past, losing a center has proven to be a serious hardship, one the offense never truly overcame, and with Jason Peters already missing from the picture, they are beginning to look very thin up front.
But much like this team through the first two weeks, Reynolds has demonstrated resilience and perseverance over four years with this club. It seems all the Eagles can do is hope that continues to translate to the field on game day.