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By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia (CBS)—It happens often. A mistake gets made and it sticks, incessantly repeated and copied. In the case of Demetress Bell, whose first name had been misspelled for years, the new Eagles’ left tackle felt the time was right for the spelling of his first name to finally get fixed.
Give credit to the Eagles, who didn’t wait around to fix their immediate concern—finding a capable left tackle to replace injured All-Pro Jason Peters, who tore his Achilles tendon last week while working out and could miss the 2012 season. Most of LeSean McCoy’s yards last season came running left behind Peters.
“In Buffalo, we had sprint draws and outside plays, and that works to my ability,” said Bell, who addressed the media Thursday morning at the Eagles’ NovaCare Complex. “I’m not polished by far. I don’t consider myself peaking for another two years, that’s just the guidelines I give myself, and what I expect of myself. I think I can work on run blocking and pass blocking to become a better player all around.
“I really don’t why a deal wasn’t worked out with Buffalo, but obviously a deal wasn’t reached, so the best deal was to come to Philly. I would say a deal wasn’t reached. I thought the Eagles had every piece of the puzzle [last year]. I guess the team wasn’t clicking on all cylinders at the same time last year when we played them. Jason was one of the reasons I came here. He told me whatever I need, I just talk to him. I don’t think I’m trying to fill [Peters] shoes, I’m just trying to do my own thing. Jason was kind of like a big brother to me [in Buffalo]. As soon as I got there, he took me in. He didn’t take me when I first got there, and I worked and worked, Jason saw me working and he showed me the dos and don’ts. We have a great relationship because of that.”
The Eagles moved swiftly in signing Bell to a five-year contract on Wednesday, though the Birds relationship with Bell may not extend beyond this season, since Peters is scheduled to return in 2013. You have to give the Eagles some credit, because there was an immediate void that needed to be filled with Peters going down, and they addressed it.
Bell, 27, ironically replaced Peters when he was traded to the Eagles. A 2008 seventh-round draft choice by Buffalo, the 6-foot-5, 311-pound Bell has started 30 games in his four years in Buffalo, including the entire 2010 season. He started six games for the Bills last year, hampered by a shoulder injury that apparently has healed. When he was on the field, the Bills were 4-2.
“Demetress was one of the top free agent offensive linemen available this year and we are happy to be able to add him to our squad,” Eagles’ coach Andy Reid said. “We had a chance to meet him over the weekend and study him extensively on tape and we came away quite impressed with what we saw and heard. He’s a great athlete.”
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman likes the experience Bell brings.
“Demetress is a guy we’ve followed since he joined the league,” Roseman said. “He’s a big, athletic left tackle and he has quite a few games of experience under his belt with Buffalo. He’ll excel with our style of play on the offensive line.”
Signing Bell also has a two-fold effect for the Eagles. It prevented the Bell from signing with the NFC East rival Washington Redskins, re-signing with the Bills. The Steelers and Cardinals were also interested in him.
And as for his first name … “It wasn’t a big deal, it was spelled Deme’tress’ on my birth certificate and I never paid any attention to it, I spelled it ‘trius’ and I wanted to correct it and get it right,” Demetress Bell said.
Like it seems the Eagles have.