Saturday, August 22, 2009

Shawn Andrews: To play or not to play?

It seems that we have a difference in opinions on when Shawn Andrews will return to the Eagles.

Andrews, who hasn't participated in any preseason activities since the first day, thinks he will be ready for Week One. Andrews is back in Philadelphia after going out to the West Coast and getting his back examined, and he appears to be in good spirits and believes he will be able to suit up against the Panthers on September 13th.

The Eagles aren't so sure, with Coach Andy Reid's mindset being that Winston Justice will be the right tackle until further notice. Reid says he has "no idea" when Andrews will be ready so he has to just go with what he has, no matter how scary it might be to think that Justice is a starter.

While the much-maligned offensive line is starting to come together now that Jason Peters and Stacy Andrews have now returned to practice, Shawn Andrews and his ailing back are still a mystery. While it could be plausible for Shawn to be ready for the first week, should the Eagles rush to get him into the starting line-up? On the one hand, he is a former Pro Bowler, but on the other, how in-shape could he possibly be if he hasn't practiced for months?

We've been through all of this before with Shawn Andrews. Last season, he battled depression all preseason and was MIA for training camp, only to show up and play in the first game of the season, proving he can get ready quickly. Of course, Andrews subsequently got injured in Week Two and was out for the rest of the year, so the Eagles would be smart to avoid rushing him back. Another factor in this situation is the fact that he is changing positions from right guard to right tackle. If Andrews doesn't even practice at his new position, how is he supposed to have any clue what he's doing out there?

So, will he or won't he play? While having Winston Justice start along the Eagles offensive line is not the best situation, if it's only for a few weeks while Andrews gets up to speed, that might not be so bad. Of course, an even smarter move would be to start Stacy Andrews at right tackle and have Nick Cole play right guard until Shawn Andrews is ready; hopefully the Eagles have looked into that.

Coach Reid has the right idea in this situation. Shawn Andrews can't be counted on until he actually starts playing, so the team has to move ahead with plans assuming he won't be suiting up. One thing we have all learned is that you can't rely on Shawn Andrews at all. If he plays, great, if he doesn't, make sure you have a contingency plan in place.

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