Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Dennis Kelly will miss the entire preseason slate after undergoing back surgery earlier this week, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Kelly, who started 10 games for the Eagles at guard and tackle in 2012, told reporters that he underwent a procedure on Monday to repair a herniated disc, the pain from which started last year. He said he was "moving pretty well" and is optimistic he'll be ready to go in time for the regular season opener.
Kelly was an important piece for the Eagles last season, providing depth to a line decimated by injuries. He proved versatile in his rookie season, plugging holes at both guard and tackle, and the Eagles were hoping to lean on him more during his second year as a pro.
SB Nation's Eagles blog, Bleeding Green Nation, believes that Kelly could be an important key to the success of the team's line in 2013:
Kelly experienced mix results during last season, but clearly improved throughout the campaign. The Purdue alum stood out on a line that featured fellow depth players such as Dallas Reynolds and King Dunlap, the latter of whom, Kelly hopes to replace at swing tackle. With a new coaching staff and blocking scheme, Kelly's experience from last year could be important in his quest to adapt to a larger role.
Prior to the injury, Kelly was expected to push first-round pick Lane Johnson for a spot atop the depth chart at the right tackle position. Johnson, who the Eagles took with the draft's fourth overall pick, will have an adjustment period to overcome in the NFL, and some believed Kelly's trail-by-fire in 2012 gave him a possible advantage in earning the starting job.
Even if he doesn't earn the starting job, the former Purdue Boilermaker figures to provide crucial depth along a line that has shown a knack for injuries. Unfortunately for the Eagles, he'll need his own backup to step up, at least during the preseason.