Eagles Protect Ex-Boise State Speedster, 312-Pound Tackle

John Hightower, JJ Arcega-Whiteside

Getty Eagles receivers John Hightower and JJ Arcega-Whiteside celebrate a play versus the Jets in a preseason game.

The Philadelphia Eagles are losing guys on the offensive line faster than Urban Meyer is losing respect in Jacksonville. So the team took out a possible insurance policy on Tuesday (Oct. 5) and protected Kayode Awosika on the practice squad.

The 312-pounder went undrafted out of the University of Buffalo back in April. Asowika, a three-year starter, saw action in 35 games and started 25 at right tackle and seven at left tackle. He was named first-team All-MAC Conference and second-team All-America as a senior while serving as team captain in 2019 and 2020.

Fun fact: Awosika is the son of Nigerian immigrants and his first name translates to “Bringer of Joy.” He grew up playing soccer before switching to football and basketball at Maple Grove High School in Minnesota.

Philadelphia also protected three additional players on the practice squad: WR John Hightower, CB Craig James, DB Elijah Riley. Hightower was a fifth-round pick (168th overall) in 2020. The speedy receiver from Boise State saw action in four games last season and caught 10 passes for 167 yards.

James was one of eight team captains for the Eagles in 2020 due to his special-teams prowess. Injuries limited his total snaps last season: 15 on defense, 80 on special teams. He has appeared in 21 career games (one start) with 17 tackles. Riley, an undrafted safety out of Army, saw 69 snaps last season in four games.

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Bigger Role for Kenneth Gainwell?

Kenneth Gainwell seems poised for a bigger workload in the Eagles’ offense after making the most of his opportunities in Week 4. Starter Miles Sanders out-snapped him against Kansas City – 47 snaps to 29 for Gainwell – but the production discrepancy was glaring.

Sanders rushed seven times for 13 yards, while the rookie out of Memphis turned three carries into 31 yards and a touchdown. Gainwell finished with 89 total yards to 47 for Sanders. Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen was asked about balancing the reps between those two explosive playmakers.

“Yeah, I think those are things that we talk about through the week,” Steichen told reporters. “Like, we put guys in position – what we think guys do best, and then we put them in position to make plays.”

Steichen continued: “So, if we feel that Kenny gives us the best chance in this situation to make a play, we’ll put him in. Same thing with Miles. If we think he gives the best chance in a situation, we put Miles in.”

Landon Dickerson Moves to Left Guard

Landon Dickerson had been taking the snaps at right guard in the aftermath of Brandon Brooks going down. He came in for Brooks mid-game in Week 2, then took his starting spot in Week 3. But the rookie from Alabama moved over to left guard versus the Chiefs following Isaac Seumalo’s season-ending injury.

The Eagles wanted to put Nate Herbig at right guard and Jack Driscoll at right tackle with Lane Johnson out. There is still uncertainty around Johnson’s status, meaning the offensive line might wind up shuffling again. Steichen wouldn’t say for sure if Dickerson would be the permanent left guard for the rest of the season.

“Yeah, I don’t know it will be his spot for the rest of the year,” Steichen said. “Could it be? Yeah, it could be. But we’re working through it and we’re going to play the best five guys every week.”

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