Eagles maintain confidence in Sua Opeta to replace Cam Jurgens

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN – FEBRUARY 28: Weber State offensive lineman Sua Opeta answers questions from the media during the NFL Scouting Combine on February 28, 2019 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

One of the healthiest position groups over the last season for the Philadelphia Eagles has been their offensive line. Only three games in 2022 saw the Eagles need to replace a single starter in the group.

That’s going to be tested in 2023 at least. Despite moving to 4-0 with a 34-31 overtime win over the Washington Commanders, the Eagles took a loss on the field when right guard Cam Jurgens left the game with an ankle injury.

Head coach Nick Sirianni called Jurgens “week-to-week” but Jeff McLane later reported that the former second-round pick is expected to be out multiple weeks.

It’s a big blow to an offense that was seemingly turning a corner in productivity. Philadelphia recorded over 400 yards of offense for the second straight game, over 30 points, and seemed to find its rhythm overall.

Still, all eyes turn now to the next man up in the rotation: Sua Opeta.

Sua Opeta is the next man up for the Eagles

Luckily for the Eagles, Opeta has been enrolled in the Jeff Stoutland University since 2019. An undrafted free agent out of Weber State, Philadelphia has been high on Opeta’s skillset. He’s played in 29 games through his career and has made four starts. He appeared late in Philadelphia’s win over Washington Sunday as well and was a key part in giving the offense time to win through the air.

“He was outstanding, and that’s not easy to do against a very good front. That’s a very good front we played yesterday. And Sua was outstanding. I think he had 40-plus snaps. I thought he was outstanding in that. Great job by him,” Sirianni said of Opeta.

It wasn’t just the coaching staff that came away impressed with Opeta’s play in relief though. Sirianni explained that after the win, right tackle Lane Johnson spoke highly of the guard’s performance and “sang Opeta’s praises.”

Could concern along the offensive line be premature as long as Jason Kelce and Johnson are still healthy and playing well? Certainly.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 22: Philadelphia Eagles offensive guard Sua Opeta (78) warms up during the game between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles on October 22, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Playing in the middle of two future Hall-of-Famers is certainly seen as a helpful tool for any young offensive lineman. For Opeta, it may just allow him to play as well as he needs to for the team to win.

Philadelphia has a tough test in front of them though after Jurgens’ injury. Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams await in LA on Sunday, and Quinnen Williams is scheduled the week after. Both the Rams and Jets will probably target Opeta consistently to try and stymie the Eagles’ vaunted offensive unit.

For the Eagles coaching staff though, sometimes a simple gameplan will work.

“He’s (Donald) got to be accounted for at all times. That doesn’t mean you do something crazy and completely do a bunch of different things that you haven’t done before, but knowing where he is on every snap, is going to be critical because we know how much of a force he is. He’s one of the best players in the NFL and we know that, and we understand that,” Sirianni explained.

Philadelphia is high on Opeta to continue the train of dominant offensive line play over the next couple of weeks. As long as he can play close to how Jurgens was so far this year, it’s safe to say the Eagles will be fine.

Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire