Demetress Bell will be a busy man in a few weeks. Bell, Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle, will be in training camp on July 25 at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.
But before training camp begins, the Eagles’ 6-foot-5, 311-pound offensive lineman, will host the Philadelphia Kids Fun Day on Tuesday, July 10 at Northeast High School, Cottman and Algon avenues and will have a variety of events for kids and adults, including autograph and photo opportunities with NFL players.
The event will begin at 2 p.m. with a free football and cheer camp for kids in grades 1–8. At 6 p.m. there will be the “Great Amazing Race with NFL players.” Kids will be paired with adults. The cost of the race is $40. Bell will have a chance to make a difference in the community prior to the start of the season.
“This is a great opportunity for the kids,” Bell said. “I always wanted to give back to the community. I wanted to do something in Philadelphia. This is where I play. It should be a fun day for everybody.”
Bell will be playing a big role in the community next week. He will be playing an important role for the Eagles this season, too. The Eagles signed Bell to a five-year deal in April. He is expected to replace left tackle Jason Peters, who suffered a ruptured right Achilles tendon in March.
Bell played left tackle for Buffalo Bills. He was started 30 games for the Bills over the last three seasons. A year ago, he played in seven games where he started six times and Buffalo had a 4-2 record in those matchups. He helped a Bills offense that tallied a season-high in points, rushed for 171 yards and gave up only one sack in a 41-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. He was a part of the offensive line that didn’t give up a sack for two straight games that culminated in a 34-31 victory over the New England Patriots.
Bell will be blocking for one of the most talented offenses in the NFL, which features quarterback Michael Vick, running back LeSean McCoy, wide receivers DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and tight Brent Celek. He’s looking forward to working with the Eagles offense.
“I know the players and coaches that I’m working with,” Bell said. “I don’t think I could be in a better situation. The offense is explosive at every position. We got Pro Bowl players at every position. We have a lot of great players across the board.”
The Eagles had a disappointing season a year ago. They expected to have a great year with a long run in the playoffs. But that didn’t happen. The Eagles finished the season with an 8-8 record, winning their last four games. However, there is a great deal of anticipation following a major let down from last year. The Eagles have all their key players under contract. The team is coming off a good mini-camp where all the players appear to be on the same page.
“I think everybody is excited,” Bell said. “Our practices have been really good. I think it’s going to be a good year for everybody. I know everybody wants to get back to playoffs. They want to have a big year. I understand that.”
Bell will be entering his fifth season in the NFL. He has proven to be a solid offensive lineman over the years. He feels each year he has made significant strides in terms of his skills.
“I think I’ve improved over the years,” he said. “Last year, I got injured (shoulder injury). But I’ve been working hard each year. I still feel I can do better. I feel I can do a lot more. I haven’t been playing football that long.”
Bell grew up in Summerfield, La., where he was an All-State and All-America honorable mention basketball player at Summerfield High School. He went to Northwestern State on a basketball scholarship. Before he joined the football team in 2005 as a defensive end, Bell had never played football at all. Despite the lack of experience, he was named to the Associated Press All-American and first team All-Southland Conference. He was also selected first-team All-Louisiana his senior year in 2007.
In 2008, he was a seventh round draft pick of the Bills. As far as playing football, Bell has come a long way in a very short period of time.
“I played power forward in basketball,” he said. I was a product of a basketball family. I was a basketball guy growing up. I’m working hard every day, but I still feel that I have only scratched the surface. I’m still learning more and more each day.”
It looks as if Bell’s best days are in front of him. His days as an Eagle will begin very soon in training camp.
NOTE: Bell’s event is produced in partnership with Flying Colors Sports, a marketing and community relations firm that works with professional athletes. For more information on the event, go to www.GreatAmazingRace.com.
The Philadelphia Eagles will open the preseason against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, Sept. 9 at Lincoln Financial Field. The kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. on 6ABC as the NFL season gets underway in Philadelphia.
Of course, the Eagles preseason matchup with the Steelers is secondary as the team deals with the passing of Garrett Reid, son of Eagles’ coach Andy, on Sunday.
On the field there are some key players to watch in this contest. Although the veterans don’t usually play very much in the preseason, it’s time to take a look at what they have been able to do in training camp so far.
Offensively, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick will have plenty of eyes on him. Vick is coming off a lackluster year last season. He needs a big year for the Eagles to make a strong run and get to the Super Bowl.
In the first two or three possessions, Vick will be under the microscope in terms of his passing, leadership and how well the offense moves the ball. Vick remains one of the NFL’s most exciting players and can explode at any time. With that in mind, if and when he breaks the pocket will he slide or get out of bounds? He has to remain healthy.
Demetress Bell, Eagles offensive tackle, is replacing Jason Peters on the offensive line and is a player to keep your eyes on. Bell has to open those holes for running back LeSean McCoy. He has to provide good pass protection for Vick.
On defense, DeMeco Ryans will be playing middle linebacker. The Eagles need his leadership and experience at this position. Tackling will be the key thing to watch. A year ago, teams had a field day running on the Eagles. They needed help at middle linebacker. That’s why they went out and acquired Ryans from the Houston Texans in the offseason. He has to stop the run. He needs to establish himself right away.
In the secondary, cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha are two talented players who really struggled last season. They will be expected to make a lot of plays against the run as well as the pass.
Up front, the Eagles should give some playing time rookie defensive end Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. Cox, a first round pick, is considered a playmaking defensive lineman. It’s time to find out how much he has learned in the training camp. Graham, a former first rounder, hopes to get on the field to show what he can do.
Jason Kelce needs season-ending knee surgery, forcing the Eagles to replace another key offensive lineman.
Kelce was placed on injured reserve Tuesday after he had surgery to repair a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee. Once that heals in about a month, he will have surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. That'll require six to 12 months recovery time.
"We never really compare these guys to any other player because they all play different positions, they have different body types, and they have different angles in their knees," Philadelphia head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder said. "They have different strengths and weaknesses. But, with everything we know about Kelce, we think that he is going to make a recovery. We think it's going to be an MCL repair, which takes six weeks to heal up, and then an ACL which takes nine months.
"We'll go from there."
The Eagles, off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2004, were hoping Kelce wouldn't need the ACL operation. On Monday, Burkholder said there was a chance he might return within six weeks. But it was determined during Tuesday's procedure that Kelce will need complete knee reconstruction.
"I think he knew he had a knee injury that was pretty significant just from what he felt on the field and what he saw on tape," Burkholder said. "I think he was hoping for the best, but prepared himself for the worst."
Center Steve Vallos was signed to take Kelce's roster spot. Dallas Reynolds will be the starter. Reynolds filled in nicely after Kelce went down in Sunday's win over Baltimore. The 28-year-old Reynolds had spent three seasons on the practice squad before taking his first snap in the NFL.
Vallos spent training camp with Philadelphia before he was released as part of the team's final roster cut down. Vallos has started eight games in four seasons with Seattle and Cleveland.
A sixth-round pick last year, Kelce started every game his rookie season and played all but six snaps. He's the second starter to be lost for an extended period. All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters tore his right Achilles' tendon in the offseason and is on the non-football injury list. He's eligible to return to practice with the team between Weeks 6-9 of the regular season, though it's uncertain if he can. -- (AP)