The Strange Saga of Jason Peters
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — You know the names by now ... DeSean, LeSean and Evan being the most notable.
If you don't toe the line in Chip Kelly's world, you aren't going to be in it for much longer.
At 33, Jason Peters is far closer to the end of his career than the beginning and when you factor in the injuries, it's evident that the All-Pro left tackle's path as an NFL player is on the descent. That said, on a team that has struggled mightily on the offensive line, Peters has still been Philadelphia's best when available.
A pinched nerve in his back that may or may not be degenerative has kept the big man on the sidelines since early in the Carolina game before the bye, however, and his status from day-to-day seems to be a mystery, even to the head coach.
(Listen to John McMullen discuss Jason Peters and more)
Last Sunday against Miami Peters claimed he felt good enough to go but was held back and Lane Johnson found out just before the game that he would be starting at left tackle.
One report by FOX29's Howard Eskin said Kelly wanted to dress Peters as a backup just in case but the proud All-Pro balked, feeling that if he was healthy enough to dress he should be playing.
Fast forward to Thursday of this week and Kelly's first declaration at his pre-practice press conference was rather simple and direct, "Jason (Peters) will not practice today. He's still going through rehab for his back."
Ten minutes later as reporters assembled in the practice bubble on a rainy day at One NovaCare Way, there was Peters, helmet in hand and ready to go after missing the Tuesday and Wednesday sessions.
When practice concluded right guard Matt Tobin claimed Peters was stationed at his familiar spot for the entire practice and while tight end Zach Ertz wasn't counting, he also confirmed Peters was out there quite a bit.
Officially Peters was listed as limited.
So what gives?
Is Kelly that out of touch with his trainers and medical staff? Or is so inundated with trying to improve on the team's disappointing start, he isn't aware of who is available until they hit the field?
Or perhaps the veteran Peters is running this show and he's been given the rope to decide when he's ready.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Johnson said after practice Thursday. “I’m playing right and playing left, kind of flipping back and forth. That’s the only thing I can do to get ready for it.”
No matter how this looks for Kelly, the biggest part of this story for the Eagles in a football sense is getting back one of their best players for Sunday's important game against Tampa Bay.
Of course when talking about injuries and whether a certain player will be ready to go come game day, Kelly will always put a caveat on things, saying the player needs to get through lighter sessions on Friday and Saturday, something Peters wasn't able to do as he did not practice 24 hours after his surprise return.
And all this uncertainty sparks a domino effect on the offensive line because Johnson currently has no idea where he is going to play on Sundays and veteran journeyman Dennis Kelly must be ready to hold down the fort on the right side.
“Who knows?” Johnson said. “I’m expecting to play left (tackle). It’s kind of a spur-of-the-moment deal.”
It might be spur-of-the-moment for now but Peters is becoming a problem for Kelly to handle and if past is prologue, that means come 2016, Johnson will be very aware of his job description as the Eagles' left tackle.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen