Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/31/12

PHILADELPHIA - SEPTEMBER 20: Andy Reid, head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles yells from the sidelines during a game against the New Orleans Saints at Lincoln Financial Field on September 20, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Eagles coach Andy Reid has continually harped on the benefit for his young team of having a full offseason of field and classroom work this spring compared to last year when a 4 1/2-month lockout prevented rookies from even getting a peek at their playbook until the start of training camp.

Yet, one of their most important teachers -- offensive line coach Howard Mudd -- was nowhere to be found at the team's three-day rookie camp and the first two weeks of OTAs.

The 70-year-old Mudd, who came out of retirement last year to coach the Eagles' offensive line and turned a unit that was one of the team's biggest question marks going into the season into one of his greatest strengths, has been given the green light to stay home in Arizona and pass on the team's OTAs. He will return for the team's mandatory three-day minicamp, which begins on June 12, and then be back for the start of training camp on July 22.

It was one of the concessions head coach Andy Reid made to Mudd to get him to return for another season. Mudd had hip replacement surgery last season during the bye week and has bad knees and a degenerative back, mementos from his playing days. He does most of his coaching from a golf cart.

In Mudd's absence, assistant offensive line coach Eugene Chung has overseen the unit during the OTAs.

The Eagles return four of their five offensive line starters from last year. So, Mudd's absence is no big deal for them. But it could be for the fifth -- left tackle Demetress Bell.

The Eagles signed Bell in March about a week after their All-Pro left tackle, Jason Peters, ruptured his Achilles tendon during a workout. Mudd teaches a totally different blocking technique than most of the league's offensive line coaches. Most offensive linemen are taught to step backward in pass protection before taking on a pass-rusher. Mudd teaches his linemen to attack and strike the first blow.

Bell said it's been a big adjustment, but learned a lot from Mudd in classroom work before OTAs and has gotten more comfortable with the technique in the practice sessions.

"I don't think that will be a problem, the more that I'm here," Bell said.

While Mudd isn't at the OTAs, the Eagles are sending him the daily video of his unit. He has spent plenty of time on the phone with Bell after watching him on film.

"He's watching me," Bell said. "He's still questioning me."

Veteran right tackle Todd Herremans also has been spending a lot of time with Bell helping him get up to speed.

"He's constantly asking me questions -- `What should you do here? What's Howard looking for here?"' Herremans said.

The Eagles need a solid year from Bell, who has the unenviable task of replacing probably the best offensive tackle in the game. At one point, the Eagles held out hope that Peters might return late in the season. But then he re-ruptured the tendon and is out until 2013.

Bell is an athletic blocker who is a good fit for Mudd's blocking scheme. The biggest question mark about his is durability. He's missed 17 games the last three years, including eight last season.

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