Brandon Brooks

Changing of the guard: Eagles have a new starter on the offensive line

Changing of the guard: Eagles have a new starter on the offensive line

Chance Warmack didn't want to say it. 

"I'm not really in a position to tell you what's going on in terms of the reps," he said. 

He didn't need to. 

The Eagles on Wednesday made a switch at the left guard position. After giving up three sacks against the Chiefs in Week 2, Isaac Seumalo is out and Warmack is in, their teammates indicated after practice. 

After a few days of publicly backing their second-year player Seumalo, the Eagles coaching staff benched him and started practice with Warmack as the Eagles' left guard between Jason Peters and Jason Kelce. Their teammates didn't know until they arrived at practice. They found out when reporters did, when during the individual period, Warmack was with the first team. 

"The change is quick and sudden," right guard Brandon Brooks said. "That's how the league is. But Isaac will get through it. We're going to support him, while also supporting Chance now that he's in there."

Seumalo (6-4, 303) was handed the Eagles' starting left guard job at the start of training camp. At that time, the Eagles decided to cut former starter Allen Barbre but eventually got a conditional seventh-round pick for him. 

"Just being in the league going on six years, I can't say I am surprised, just because it's all about production," Brooks said. 

And it's true that Seumalo didn't produce. Still, the swift change is probably shocking to some. Head coach Doug Pederson and Frank Reich backed Seumalo over the last few days and Pederson even talked about not wanting to hit panic buttons. Two days later, he has a new starting left guard. 

Warmack (6-2, 323) was brought to the Eagles on a one-year deal this offseason, reuniting with his college coach Jeff Stoutland, with whom he has a very strong relationship. He clearly thinks Stoutland is the guy to get his career back on track. Warmack was once the 10th-overall pick, and while he was a starter in Tennessee, he never lived up to that hype. 

When the Eagles signed Warmack to an extension before the start of this season, it was easy to see into the future and determine that the team might have a plan for him. Warmack chose to not read into it too much. 

For the first two games of this season, Warmack was inactive, which he admitted was "weird." It was the first time since early on in college when he was healthy and did not play. He has played in 48 games in the NFL and has 48 starts. 

In training camp, Warmack wasn't even given an opportunity to compete for a starting job, but after two weeks of the regular season, he's already taken over. 

"The more you stay in the same system, the better you're going to get," Warmack said. "You're never perfect that you want to strive to be, but you just constantly beating on the same things over and over and try to execute on those things and get better."

Seumalo, who said he needed to improve his play, did not speak to reporters on Wednesday. 

If anything, a couple of Seumalo's teammates on the offensive line seemed disappointed the second-year player won't get a chance to work through his struggles. Both Brooks and Lane Johnson said when they've had bad games, it helped to get back on the field the next week. 

Johnson remembered the third game of his rookie season in 2013 against Kansas City, when Justin Houston abused the bright-eyed rookie. He thought about that this week as he faced off against Houston and the Chiefs again last week. 

"I think in this city, it'll make you mentally tougher," Johnson said. "Like when we played the Chiefs in my rookie year. I gave up three sacks and I made sure it wasn't going to happen again. I learned from it. The biggest thing from having bad games is to learn from it, grow from it, so when you have an opportunity again, you can show coaches I've learned from it." 

But, as Johnson noted, he was a first-round pick and kept his starting gig partially because of it. 

Brooks, likewise, said he's had bad games but has never been benched because of one. 

"It's just unfortunate, man, seeing a young guy like that after having a bad game," Brooks said. "He's a young player, you don't just want to kill his confidence this early in his career. A bad game, for that to happen, I wish he could work through it. 

"I just wish he had a chance to bounce back."

He won't yet. Seumalo will sit, while the Eagles take a chance on Warmack. 

Injured Brandon Brooks, Wendell Smallwood return to Eagles practice

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AP Images

Injured Brandon Brooks, Wendell Smallwood return to Eagles practice

Monday was a day of returns at the NovaCare Complex, all on the offensive side of the ball.

Alshon Jeffery took his turns with the first-team offense during 11-on-11 drills, Bryce Treggs was also back out wide and Nick Foles threw for the first time in a while.

But after Brandon Brooks went down with strained right ankle one week ago, his return to the practice field had to be the most encouraging — especially following the way the Eagles' offensive line struggled last week at Green Bay.

"I’m feeling good," Brooks said. "I’m not there yet, just doing what I can — some individual, some group install. I’m kind of staying away from team for the time being."

Although the starting right guard didn't participate in any team drills Monday, it was clearly a step in the right direction. With Chance Warmack taking first-team reps last Thursday vs. the Packers, the Green Bay defense had a field day on the Birds' initial offensive series, forcing three rushes for negative yardage and a sack by Nick Perry.

Now, the question is will Brooks be back on the field this week?

"I don’t know," he said. "It’s kind of up in the air, 50-50. I’m just seeing how I feel, taking it day by day. It felt better today than it did last week. Obviously, we don’t think it’s where it needs to be for me to do team, but we’ll just take it from there."

Fortunately for Brooks, his starting spot is more than safe. He will be an Eagles starter come opening day at Washington next month.

The same cannot necessarily be said, however, for Wendell Smallwood, who also was back on the practice field Monday

It was a similar situation for the second-year running back — he participated in both individual and group drills but did not make an appearance during the team portion of practice. Instead, Donnel Pumphrey and Corey Clement worked out of the backfield in relief of LeGarrette Blount.

What makes Smallwood's case all the more interesting, though, is that his role hasn't been clarified in the Eagles' running back committee. 

Blount and Darren Sproles both have clearly defined positions and skill sets. But Blount is 30 and Sproles is 34 — it's not necessarily reasonable to expect either to be a lead back at their age.  And as far as Pumphrey? He's a rookie fourth-rounder.

So the opportunity is there for Smallwood. It's just a matter of whether he'll get to prove that he's ready for it during the next few weeks.

"It felt good to run around a little bit, be out here and do my thing," Smallwood said. "I definitely want those reps — practice, game, whatever it is, I definitely want to get those reps.

"It’s always motivation to get back out there whether we’ve got one running back, two running backs. I want to be out there and I want to get better with myself, get those reps in and see things to learn."

If last week was an indicator, the Eagles could definitely use the West Virginia product back on the field Thursday when they host the Bills. Against Green Bay, seven different players registered at least a carry for the Birds, yet those players totaled just 47 yards on 19 carries (good for an average of 2.5 yards per rush).

It still remains to be seen how Doug Pederson will split the offense between the air and the ground, but if Smallwood can show that he has the ability to make an impact, Pederson may have no choice but to put the ball in his hands.

"I definitely want to be back," Smallwood said. "I think I put the pressure on myself trying to get back. That’s on me being eager to get out there, compete and show what I can do."

Eagles Inactives: Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Brooks ruled out for preseason opener

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USA Today Images

Eagles Inactives: Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Brooks ruled out for preseason opener

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Eagles will be without two starters on offense for their preseason game against the Packers on Thursday night at Lambeau Field.

Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and right guard Brandon Brooks are both out for the game.

Jeffery had a shoulder injury earlier in training camp but has been practicing and the team claims he's completely over the injury. But head coach Doug Pederson has been cautious with his new prized weapon and said it would be his decision whether or not Jeffery would play. Nelson Agholor will likely start in his place, along with Torrey Smith. 

Brooks strained his ankle on Monday at practice and needed to leave the indoor session early. He missed Tuesday's practice, so it seemed like a long shot he would play in this game.

Expect free agent pickup and former first-round pick Chance Warmack to start at right guard. Warmack has been filling in with the first team during practice.

Wendell Smallwood (hamstring) and Marcus Johnson (hamstring) were not on the field for warmups. It seems like they'll miss the game.