As the Eagles' 2017 training camp draws near — rookies and selected veterans report Monday, July 24 — Dave Zangaro takes a look at five position battles that will be decided this summer. Today, we start our series with left guard.
From the time Doug Pederson became the Eagles' head coach last offseason, the positioning of the stalls in the far right corner of the locker room hasn't changed.
They're arranged by the order of starters: (from left to right) Jason Peters, Allen Barbre, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson.
That combination remained intact for the first four games of the season and the Eagles got off to a hot 3-1 start. But that was before Johnson's suspension and subsequent injuries on the offensive line helped to derail the 2016 season.
As the 2017 offseason kicked off, the locker stalls remained unmoved. But the line might get a shake-up soon.
Thanks to those injuries last year, rookie Isaac Seumalo played four of five spots along the line during his first NFL season. The only position he didn't play was center, which might actually be his most natural spot.
Seumalo's experience and Barbre's advancing age (33), has set up a position battle at left guard this training camp. While Stefen Wisniewski, after signing a new deal this offseason, probably shouldn't be ruled out and while the team also added former first-rounder Chance Warmack, it seems like a two-horse race for now: Barbre vs. Seumalo.
During the spring, as Barbre recovered from a leg injury, he and Seumalo split reps with the first team at left guard.
And if Barbre and Seumalo continue to split reps into training camp, it's going to be awfully tough for Wisniewski or Warmack to jump over both of them. So it seems very likely that either the aging veteran or the second-year player will start at left guard.
"Yeah, right now I want to get Isaac as much [preparation] as possible to get him ready and get him starter reps," Pederson said during minicamp. "Then at the same time with Allen, it’s the same thing. Allen is another one of those guys that's kind of in that Jason Peters mold a little bit, as far as knowing what he can do and [our comfort level] in his ability. You know, we just wanted to get [Barbre] to camp and get him to the regular season."
That makes it seem possible that the Eagles simply wanted to get Seumalo some work because the veteran Barbre doesn't need it, but don't rule out the youngster. The Eagles should give Seumalo every opportunity to win the gig.