Quick Takes on Eagles New LT Demetress Bell

Quick Takes on Eagles New LT Demetress Bell

1. The future is Bell?

The length of Demetress Bell's news contract worth $35 million was a surprise, but the Inquirer's Jeff McLane reports only the first year of the five-year deal is guaranteed, making it so Bell only plays out the remaining years if the team needs him -- which they might.

Jason Peters' future is up in the air as a result of his injury. The one silver lining from this disaster is Peters has almost 18 months to rehab for kickoff in 2013, but recovery from an Achilles injury can be unpredictable. Peters can become a free agent in 2015 as well, so the front office won't have long to make a decision on how to proceed with their All-Pro left tackle.

Bell is a nice insurance policy should things take a turn for the worse with Peters, but he also protects the Eagles in the event of another catastrophic injury along the offensive line, or from a situation as simple as Danny Watkins not panning out. Todd Herremans can always slide back to guard if Peters is healthy, so there are a few different combinations they can try.

All of which is contingent on Bell proving his worth. Again, the Eagles undoubtedly have their outs, and if everybody is healthy and playing at a high level, the estimated $7 million annually is generally too much for a back-up anything. However, five years leaves the team with the option to retain Bell's services for as long as they deem necessary -- and that much is anybody's guess.

2. Bargaining Chip

Five years was a bit of a surprise, but it's not just about renting a left tackle for this season. The Eagles are positioning themselves to make moves.

Assuming Peters does make a near-full recovery, and everybody else is alive a year or two from now, the Eagles could have themselves yet another asset for the trading block. Some team desperately in need of a left tackle down the line may be willing to pay a steep price to acquire Bell should he have a quality season. We won't go so far as to place a value on his services, but five teams kicked Bell's tires this offseason, so he will draw some interest.

3. Eagles Can and Should Still Draft Linemen

This addition does not preclude the team from adding more depth in the draft. In fact, if Peters' injury proves anything, it's the old adage you can never have too many tackles on the roster. Obviously it's not a front-line, first-round type of need anymore, which is great. The belief is tackle could be a reach at #15 overall, and you still have to hold out some bit of hope Peters can eventually return to form.

That said, you can no longer count on Peters, nor can you assume Bell solves that problem, nor that King Dunlap can be the guy either. It would be wise to find something with which to break glass in case of emergency should plans A, B, C all fall flat.

Knowing the Eagles, they will do exactly that. In fact, looking back on the Andy Reid era, it's actually unusual they were caught with their pants down in this situation. Ordinarily the Birds have a handful of versatile linemen in their employ who could slide outside at a moment's notice, not at all unlike Herremans. It seems with Evan Mathis and Danny Watkins, that's not the case. They further emptied their coffers by dumping Jamaal Jackson and Winston Justice, so reenforcements surely are on the way.

So while signing Bell was a great short-term investment with certain long-term repercussions, don't expect the Eagles to stop there. With the exception of one or two off years, offensive line has almost always been a strength under this regime. No reason to expect that commitment to change.

No. 16 Villanova vs. No. 23 Albany: With or without Bednarczyk, can Wildcats rebound?


No. 16 Villanova vs. No. 23 Albany: With or without Bednarczyk, can Wildcats rebound?

No. 16 Villanova (5-2, 3-1) vs. No. 23 Albany (4-2, 1-2)
Villanova Stadium, Villanova, Pa.
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

Fresh off a rare loss, Villanova looks to get back on track during its homecoming game against another nationally ranked foe. Here’s a look at the matchup:

Scouting Villanova
The Wildcats saw their five-game winning streak snapped in resounding fashion as they were shut out for the first time since 2004 in a 23-0 loss to Richmond. Sophomore quarterback Zach Bednarczyk left the game in the second quarter with an injury, a big reason why the Wildcats finished with just 222 yards of total offense. But despite the final score, Villanova’s defense played well again with Austin Calitro and Rob Rolle each hitting double digits in tackles. The unit is ranked fifth in the FCS in scoring defense (16.3 points per game) and sixth in total defense (237.9 yards per game) and has scored four defensive touchdowns.

Scouting Albany
After winning their first four games, the Great Danes lost their next two, a 36-30 triple-overtime heartbreaker to Richmond followed by a 20-16 setback to Maine. Sophomore quarterback Neven Sussman led Albany with 187 passing yards and 75 rushing yards. But for the season, their offensive strength has been with sophomore running back Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks, who’s second in the CAA in rushing, averaging 105 yards per game. Albany’s defense is only behind Villanova in points allowed per game (19.3) in the CAA, but interestingly enough is last in total defense (420.2 yards per game). The Great Danes lead the league in turnover margin (plus-15), led by linebacker Michael Nicastro and safety Mason Gray with three interceptions apiece.

Series history
Villanova has only played Albany twice, beating the Great Danes, 48-31, in 2014 and steamrolling it, 37-0, last season. 

Storyline to watch
The big question going in is whether Bednarczyk will play with Villanova saying it will be a game-time decision after the QB suffered a concussion last week. If he can’t go, Adeyemi DaSilva will get the start in his place after replacing him in the second quarter vs. Richmond. DaSilva is a promising player but Bednarczyk was coming into his own this season and his absence would naturally be a difficult one. Of course, the Wildcats have been through this before with Bednarczyk taking over as the starter last season when star John Robertson went down with an injury of his own.

What’s at stake?
Villanova still has a chance to win the CAA but probably can’t afford a second loss in the league. And of course, there’s nothing better than winning in front of a homecoming crowd.

A lot depends on whether Bednarczyk can play … but even if he doesn’t, the Wildcats’ dominant defense may be enough to get the job done. 

Villanova 20, Albany 17

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

MIAMI — A woman performing the national anthem before an NBA preseason game in Miami on Friday night did so while kneeling at midcourt, and opening her jacket to show a shirt with the phrase "Black Lives Matter."

The singer was identified by the Heat as Denasia Lawrence. It was unclear if she remained in the arena after the performance, and messages left for her were not immediately returned.

Heat players and coaches stood side-by-side for the anthem, all with their arms linked as has been their custom during the preseason. Many had their heads down as Lawrence sang, and the team released a statement saying it had no advance knowledge that she planned to kneel.

"We felt as a basketball team that we would do something united, so that was our focus," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Throughout all of this, I think the most important thing that has come out is the very poignant, thoughtful dialogue. We've had great dialogue within our walls here and hopefully this will lead to action."

The anthem issue has been a major topic in the sports world in recent months, starting with the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand for its playing. Kaepernick cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for his protest, and athletes from many sports -- and many levels, from youth all the way to professional -- have followed his lead in various ways.

"All I can say is what we've seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in New York earlier Friday, at a news conference following the league's board of governors meetings. "It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do."

The NBA has a rule calling for players and coaches to stand during the anthem.

Heat guard Wayne Ellington often speaks about the need to curb gun violence, after his father was shot and killed two years ago. He had his eyes closed for most of the anthem Friday, as per his own custom, though was aware of Lawrence's actions.

"At the end of the day, to each his own," Ellington said. "If she feels like that's the way she wants to stand for it, then more power to her."

Making a statement in the manner that Lawrence did Friday is rare, but not unheard of in recent weeks.

When the Sacramento Kings played their first home preseason game earlier this month, anthem singer Leah Tysse dropped to one knee as she finished singing the song.

Tysse is white. Lawrence is black.

"I love and honor my country as deeply as anyone yet it is my responsibility as an American to speak up against injustice as it affects my fellow Americans," Tysse wrote on Facebook. "I have sung the anthem before but this time taking a knee felt like the most patriotic thing I could do. I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability."