Eagles training camp 2022: Why every rep for Isaac Seumalo is 3rd-and-long in the Super Bowl

·4 min read

Why every rep is 3rd-and-long in the Super Bowl for Isaac Seumalo originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Now that he’s over at right guard, Isaac Seumalo finds himself working against Fletcher Cox most of the time.

Cox may not be the player he used to be, but we’re talking about a six-time Pro Bowler who’s still a formidable talent, knows all the tricks of the trade and is giving Seumalo everything he has play after play after play.

And Seumalo loves it.

“Trust me, every rep I take with Fletch, I treat it like it’s 3rd-and-long in the Super Bowl, and I want to win,” he said. “I think about this all the time. The confidence that you see in a lot of DBs and receivers, I try to bring that to the offensive line and I learned a lot of that from Brandon Brooks and J.P. (Jason Peters).

“You’ve got to embrace those two-minute, 3rd-downs. When you’re 1-on-1? Me and Lane (Johnson) especially, we try to take a lot of pride in that. It’s not me having to face that guy, it’s, ‘He’s got to face me every play.’

“I love going up against great players and you get to test it every day. That’s the best thing and I really appreciate it.”

Seumalo is back 10 months after undergoing surgery to repair a lisfranc foot sprain that ended his 2021 season after just three games.

Some may see him as one of the few question marks on a stacked offense – coming off his second straight season-ending injury, new position on the o-line – but Seumalo said after practice Saturday he couldn’t be more encouraged by the way the first week and a half of training camp has gone.

The normally stoic Seumalo even got a little emotional talking about a moment he took in the locker room before practice Thursday to reflect on everything he’s been through.

“It’s been great being out there,” he said. “The first day we had pads on I just kind of took a minute (to reflect). It’s been nine, 10 months since I put on cleats and pads and stuff and I’m really enjoying the moment, trying to squeeze as much as I can out of every day."

And that reflective moment in the locker room?

“(I was) just taking a second to appreciate the ability to just play football again," he said. "Because those first six months after the surgery was a grueling process and all the work I put in to get to this point, it’s been a lot.”

When he’s healthy, Seumalo is very good. But he missed seven games with a knee injury in 2020 and 15 games last year. And Landon Dickerson’s emergence last year at Seumalo’s left guard spot forced Seumalo across to Brandon Brooks’ old right guard spot.

“Brandon Brooks, who’s a close friend of mine, the way he approached his injuries and the way he came back is something that I really took notice of,” Seumalo said. “So last year with the knee, I felt like I came back quicker than I was scheduled and played better, and I approached this the same way. I wanted to come back stronger.

“I try to embrace these kinds of challenges - switching sides, coming back off a bad foot injury - and then I think the last two weeks I’ve been performing at a really high level. And I think the biggest thing that attests to that is when you ask the guys you’re going up against and they say the same thing. I appreciate the respect there and embracing those challenges has always been the biggest thing for me.”

Seumalo is now in his seventh season with the Eagles, the only member of the 2016 draft class still here.

Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, Fletcher Cox and Lane Johnson are the only other position players who’ve been here that long. Long snapper Rick Lovato also arrived in 2016.

“It’s flown by,” he said. “I try to really appreciate living in the moment and realizing that I get to play this game for a living. Especially when you get injured and you’re away from the game. It puts everything in perspective.

“I think in this league, in this business, it’s what have you done for me recently, and can you prove it today, and that’s every year, every rep, every practice, so I approach every day like that.”

The elephant in the room with Seumalo is his contract.

He’s on the last year of a three-year, $17.6 million extension he signed in 2019 that covers the 2020 through 2022 seasons. He’s only played 12 games since that contract kicked in.

Is it on his mind? Kind of.

But he knows where that can lead, and he’s smart enough to know he can't go there.

“I’m not going to say it’s not there,” he said. “But once you step on the football field, if you’re thinking about anything else other than blocking the guy in front of you, you’re thinking the wrong way.”

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