Chip Kelly: Allen Barbre Will Start at Right Tackle
The Philadelphia Eagles made a concerted effort in the last year's draft to upgrade the offensive line and now, only one year into his career, Lane Johnson, last year's No. 4 overall pick will have to sit out four games. The NFL suspended Johnson four games for violating the league's policy against performance-enhancing drugs. This leaves the right tackle spot in the hands of veteran Allen Barbre.
While Barbre will get the first chance to start at right tackle, head coach Chip Kelly explained that Johnson still needs to get some work, it just won't be with the first team.
"Obviously, we’ve got to get another guy ready," Kelly explained. "Allen Barbre will start out there. Obviously we’ve got to prepare for our first four games, so we’ve got to get the guy who is going to be the starting right tackle for the first four games. It will have a big impact on terms of where he is. We still have to develop Lane. So he'll get reps, but they won't be with the first team right now."
The Eagles seem to have a lot of confidence in Barbre, the team gave him an extension this offseason and expected him to battle for time all across the offensive line - with Johnson out, he becomes the starting right tackle right away.
"Allen is an integral part to what we're doing and we wanted to make sure we kept him here," Kelly stated. "We feel like he's a talented football player. He was really going to be pushing those guys if Lane wasn't [suspended], pushing all those other guys for playing time. When he's had an opportunity to perform, he did a great job. He did a great job, again, in the off‑season program. That's why we wanted to have him back here."
Barbre was expected to compete for time at guard with incumbent left guard Todd Herremans or slide to right guard if Evan Mathis chose to holdout. The former Seattle Seahawk and Green Bay Packer played 89 offensive snaps at left and right tackle last season, filling in for an injured Jason Peters from time-to-time.
Now the seventh-year player is making his first legitimate move to the right side as a starter.
"He's got a great understanding," Kelly said. "He's got flexibility in terms of being the guard-tackle for us. When he gets some extended playing time, especially in the Green Bay game, when Jason [Peters] was out, he did a really, really nice job at left tackle for us. The biggest thing is just him transitioning over. He had been more of a left guard, left tackle kind of guy. Just moving him over to the right side and getting comfortable. That's why we felt on day one we need to get him reps starting at right tackle."
Barbre, 30, is signed through the next three seasons, he'll make $730,000 in 2014, $1.25 million from 2015-2017. He has started just seven of 48 games in his seven year career, all coming in 2009 while with the Packers.
The Eagles didn't add an offensive lineman in this year's draft, meaning the competition for Johnson's vacated spot shouldn't be a big storyline at Eagles camp - unless of course, Barbre isn't ready for a move up the depth chart.
The team is scheduled for a Sunday and Monday practice, they will be off on Tuesday.