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Danny Watkins' absence poses challenge for Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles' offensive line has been the team's weak link this season. Things could get worse with Danny Watkins out of the lineup.

The right guard's chronic ankle issues have designated him as doubtful for Sunday's matchup against the 6-0 Atlanta Falcons. Watkins has been inconsistent this season, but he was a known entity. Rookie Dennis Kelly is in line to make his first start.

Michael Vick has struggled to stay off his back -- and protect the football -- all season. The pressure is on Kelly to give his quarterback a chance on Sunday.

"I've just been preparing all week as if I have to start," Kelly said, via NFL.com and NFL Network's Jeff Darlington. "It's better to be ready to play than at the last minute be thrown in and not be ready to go."

Kelly expects Atlanta's front seven to key on him, given his inexperience.

"You would think so just because (I'm) a rookie and it's the first time," he said. "Again, it's something that you prepare for. I wouldn't be surprised if they gave a little bit of extra pressure towards me. That's what we use our gameplan to prepare for it."


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The looming presence of Hurricane Sandy adds another layer to the challenge. Vick acknowledged the gameplan will get more conservative if the weather get nasty.

"If it is bad, then we've just got to take advantage of the opportunities that we're given," Vick said, via Darlington. "Obviously, we're going to have to run the ball a bit more, but we'll still throw it; still throw it around, but we've got to protect it in bad weather."

Rookie guard. Ugly conditions. Undefeated opponent. The ingredients are in place for trouble for the Eagles. Of course, coach Andy Reid's teams are 13-0 coming off bye weeks.

Weather isn't the only great equalizer.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus.

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