Eagles already 3 men down on O-Line

PHILADELPHIA (AP) The Philadelphia Eagles started the same five offensive linemen for all 17 games last season. They won’t do it two games in a row this year.

All-Pro left guard Evan Mathis and right tackle Allen Barbre both were injured in the season-opening 34-17 win over Jacksonville, forcing the Eagles to turn to a pair of inexperienced guys playing out of position.

It’s uncertain how long Mathis and Barbre will be out of the lineup.

”We’ll figure it out when we get there,” coach Chip Kelly said Monday. ”To sit here and say it’s this and this, I don’t know who is in and who is out. We’ll meet later on and we’ll get together and put the group out there.”

The Eagles (1-0) have an extra day of preparation before playing at Indianapolis (0-1) next Monday night. Andrew Gardner and David Molk filled in for Mathis and Barbre against the Jaguars. Dennis Kelly, who was inactive, could start at guard next week. Backup tackle Matt Tobin, who was inactive because of an ankle injury, isn’t expected back yet.

Gardner replaced Mathis when he went down in the first half. After Barbre got hurt, Gardner moved to tackle and Molk came in to play guard for the first time in his NFL career.

”I thought he did a real good job,” Kelly said of Molk, the backup center. ”His first extensive action. He had never played in a game, but he really held his own in there. He’s a tough, physical player. Both him and Gardner did a nice job and they were in there for the entire second half in terms of fitting in where (they) probably had not been practicing. Gardner had been more of a left tackle. Both those guys considering the circumstances I thought did pretty well.”

The defending NFC East champions already were missing left tackle Lane Johnson because he’s serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy.

Mathis sprained a ligament in his left knee in the first half. He’ll likely miss up to six weeks. Barbre, who took Johnson’s spot, injured his right ankle and could return sooner.

The Eagles had only seven active linemen for the first game. If they lost another player, tight end Brent Celek would’ve played there.

”That is a fear when you have a 46-man roster,” Kelly said of depth.

The patchwork line helped the Eagles rally from a 17-0 halftime deficit to beat the Jags. Nick Foles was sacked five times in the first half and lost two fumbles that led to Jacksonville’s touchdowns. He didn’t get sacked in the second half.

”The guys that came in did a great job,” Foles said. ”They really gave me some protection and opened up some seams in the run game.”

Last year, Mathis, Johnson, All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters, center Jason Kelce and right guard Todd Herremans started every game, including a playoff loss. They paved the way for LeSean McCoy to run for a franchise-record 1,607 yards and helped the offense set several team records.

The good news for Philadelphia is that their backup linemen played well in the preseason and that carried over into the opener when Molk and Gardner had to play unfamiliar spots.

”Any time you can have continuity, I think that’s a bonus but obviously the injuries are part of the game and if you don’t have it, the next guy has got to go in and I thought Gardner and Molk did a good job when they went in there,” Kelly said.

NOTES: Kelly said he plans to continue using RB Darren Sproles the way he did vs. the Jaguars. Sproles had 11 carries for 71 yards, including a career-best 49-yard TD run. He also had four catches for 11 yards and averaged 15.5 yards on four punt returns. ”I think he’s an outstanding running back,” Kelly said. ”He proved it and it’s nothing that he has not proved from the first two or three days we saw him in the offseason program. He’s really, really talented and you have to find ways to get the football in his hands.” … OLB Marcus Smith, a rookie first-round pick, saw no action in his first NFL game. Brandon Graham backed up both outside linebackers.

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