Offensive Line Is An Unsung Hero

They're the guys who generally only get attention when things go wrong; the offensive line. In the case of the Eagles though, the offensive line has been impressive this season, giving the offense a lot of ways to strike.

The Eagles' offensive line has done an outstanding job of protecting the quarterback this season. Through 13 games, they've allowed just 24 sacks. They're on pace to allow the fewest sacks of the Andy Reid era, and the fewest by an Eagles' offensive line in 25 years.

"The line has been doing a good job all year," Reid said. "(Veteran right tackle) Jon (Runyan) doesn't get a lot of credit for what he's doing this year, but he's putting together a nice season. As is (left tackle) William Thomas."

The 33-year-old Runyan and the 32-year-old Thomas anchor a young group that includes second-year left guard Todd Herremans, third-year right guard Shawn Andrews and fourth-year center Jamaal Jackson. Last week, Runyan and Thomas started their 100th game together.

The Eagles have allowed one or less sacks in five of their last seven games. In the 15 quarters since quarterback Jeff Garcia replaced Donovan McNabb, who went down with a torn ACL in Week 11 against Tennessee, the line has given up just two sacks.

Garcia has had a little to do with that. Unlike McNabb, the 37-year-old Garcia doesn't hold on to the ball very long. He's got a clock in his head, and when it goes off, he gets rid of the ball.

"He's actually a little easier to block for than Donovan because of how quickly he gets that ball out of there," Runyan said.

Runyan is expected to return for at least one, and probably two more seasons with the Eagles. Thomas's future with the team is a little more unclear. He's scheduled to make $4.5 million next season and the team selected his potential replacement, Winston Justice of USC, in the April draft. But Thomas is having one of the best seasons of his career.

Notes From The 'Nest...

  • C Jamaal Jackson suffered a sprained ankle in Sunday's win over Washington. He missed a series, but returned to the game and finished.
  • RB Brian Westbrook has had 20 or more touches in his last seven games. His 263 touches for the season are a career-high.
  • FB Thomas Tapeh, who had just 15 touches in the Eagles' first 12 games, caught a huge four-yard pass on third-and-2 late in the fourth quarter Sunday against Washington that allowed the Eagles to run out the clock and protect a 21-19 lead.
  • WR Donte Stallworth caught his fifth touchdown pass Sunday against Washington. He's one of four Eagles receivers with at least four TD catches.
  • WR Reggie Brown has had 70-plus receiving yards in each of the Eagles' last two games. He's got a team-high seven TD catches and is averaging 18.3 yards per catch.
  • TE L.J. Smith hasn't been utilized much as a downfield threat lately. He's got 14 catches in the last four games, but is averaging just 6.3 yards per reception in those four games.
  • PK David Akers has missed just one field goal in the last 10 games, but has only attempted 12 of them during that period. He didn't have any attempts last week v. Washington.

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