Eagles will have at least five new starters on offense
PHILADELPHIA (AP) While Sam Bradford and DeMarco Murray headline a new-look offense for the Philadelphia Eagles, their success depends on the performance of the blockers in front of them.
The Eagles have two new starters on an offensive line that was dominant in 2013 but was depleted by injury in 2014. The team opened minicamp Tuesday without two-time Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis, who was released last week following a contract disagreement.
Allen Barbre has replaced Mathis at left guard. Matt Tobin, Andrew Gardner and Dennis Kelly are competing for the starting job at right guard in place of longtime starter Todd Herremans, who was released in March.
''We are obviously down a good football player,'' coach Chip Kelly said about losing Mathis. ''We're confident in the guys we have and that's why we made the decision we made.''
Kelly said Mathis was released per the request of his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. The Eagles tried to trade Mathis the past two offseasons, but didn't get any offers, according to Kelly.
''They obviously wanted a new contract. We weren't going to give him a new contract. They asked for their release, so we released him,'' Kelly said.
Mathis didn't attend voluntary workouts, but he was planning to report for mandatory practices before the Eagles officially released him last Friday. Mathis, a 2013 All-Pro, told The Associated Press he had not asked for his release since March. Several teams are interested in him, so he won't be unemployed long.
''We just felt that if he didn't want to be here, I want Evan to get whatever he could get and I hope it works out for him,'' Kelly said. ''He was great for us in the two years we had him. I like Evan a lot. If he wants to get a release to see if he could get what he could get better, we released him.''
Mathis helped anchor a line that paved the way for LeSean McCoy to lead the NFL with a franchise-record 1,607 yards rushing in 2013. Mathis, Herremans, left tackle Jason Peters, center Jason Kelce and right tackle Lane Johnson started all 17 games that season, including playoffs. They didn't play one game together last year because of several injuries.
Mathis missed eight games but returned to make the Pro Bowl for the second straight year. Kelce sat out four games, Herremans missed eight and Johnson was suspended for the first four. Barbre suffered a season-ending in Week 1 when he filled in for Johnson.
''We haven't changed any play schemes or how we run things,'' Kelly said. ''We're very comfortable with the depth we have.''
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