By Michael McCarthy

There is a good reason many people people the NFL really stands for NOT FOR LONG.

Take the Eagles’ offensive line.


What last season was one of the bright spots for the team is now a collection of second-stringers and wannabes.

With injuries wrecking havoc across the Eagles front, the team lined up at practice Tuesday, in preparation for the 49ers, with Jason Peters at left tackle, and that was the only position not out of the ordinary.

Next to Peters at left guard is Matt Tobin (photo above), who has been out since the final preseason game with a sprained ankle. At center is Davis Molk, who replaces the injured Jason Kelce. Dennis Kelly, who has started at left guard the past two games for an injured Evan Mathis, moves to right guard. And Todd Herremans moves out from right guard to right tackle to replace an ineffective Andrew Gardner.

It will change again next week when right tackle Lane Johnson is expected to return from his four-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance.

“What I can guarantee you is that we will have five linemen out there,’’ Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said before Tuesday’s practice. “There will be five.’’

Now, we know – Peters, Tobin, Molk, Kelly and Herremans.

The new man in is Tobin, who looked good in the preseason until he suffered the ankle sprain in the final preseason game. Now, the 6-6, 290-pound undrafted free agent out of Iowa will make his first career start NFL start, as will Molk.

“I think it’s an advantage that the three of us lined up together all through camp and the preseason,’’ Tobin said of himself, Molk and Kelly, who have all moved up from second team to starters because of injury. “We work well together.’’

It’s one thing to work well together against the Jets’ second team; it’s another to do it against the 49ers’ front.

“That’s an active front,’’ Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. “It’s a lot like the one we just faced from Washington. They like to play (3-4) base, with a five-man front and they have two really good outside linebackers who are up there on the edge. Then inside, he’s been around 14 years, Justin Smith, he can just wreck a game.’’

Smith, the 49ers right defensive end will line up across from Tobin.

“I’m excited,’’ Tobin said after Tuesday’s practice. “My ankle feels fine. I’m ready to go. It might take a series, but I’ll be ready to go.’’


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