What will Jordan Mailata's role be in Eagles' second half? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
He could be on the bench. He could be at left tackle. He could be at right tackle.
He has no idea.
“I think I’m at running back this week,” Jordan Mailata said.
Yes, he was joking.
But this is life right now for Mailata, who made his first five career starts in the Eagles' last five games before the bye week - four at left tackle, one at right tackle.
With Jason Peters back and Lane Johnson expected back, Mailata’s first run of NFL playing time could be coming to an end.
Then again, the way things have gone around here, he could find himself back on the field anytime.
“I honestly have no idea,” he said. “Just like last week, I’m taking the same approach, just going to do whatever it takes and do whatever the team needs me to do, whether it’s coming off the bench or be that extra tight end on those packages, so we’ll just see what happens. It’s the team first.”
Mailata had his ups and downs, but considering he never played meaningful football on any level before, he held his own.
The Eagles went 3-2 in his five starts, and Mailata graduated from crazy rugby veteran experiment to legit NFL offensive tackle.
“Every time I can get on that field, it’s definitely going to make me a better player and give me that one ounce of experience that I need and [learn] how to weather situations in the game,” he said.
Mailata is in his third season but only 23 years old. At worst, he proved the Eagles can count on him in that Big V role, backing up both tackle spots. At best, he gives the Eagles an intriguing option once 38-year-old Jason Peters presumably moves on for good after this season.
It’s a lot to ask a former rugby player with no experience to play left tackle, but things got even tougher for Mailata last week, when he made his first start at right tackle.
It certainly went better than the last Eagles left tackle that tried to make an emergency start at right tackle, but it was a lot.
On the Eagles’ second offensive snap, DeMarcus Lawrence beat Mailata for a sack, and it looked like it might be a very tough day.
But he learned and he bounced back.
“Just bad technique from my end,” he said. “I didn’t think he was going to play like that on the second play of the game, and that’s what caught me off guard, but that’s a learning mistake that I can better myself with. … Every time I try to think about what they’re going to do, it put me in a bad situation.”
“I think the biggest takeaway for me from switching over is to get comfy faster. How to start off the game playing like I did on the left side, that’s my biggest takeaway from the Dallas game
What did o-line coach Jeff Stoutland say about Mailata's first start at right tackle?
"He said I did a good job, but moreso, he said I did a bad job," Mailata said. "It wasn't perfect and we have a lot to work on."
The Eagles have used seven starting offensive lines in eight games and nine different starters, five of whom never started a game before. In all, 10 offensive linemen have played meaningful snaps.
There’ve been rookies and undrafted players and guys signed off the street.
But none as much of a longshot as Mailata.
The job Stoutland has done getting Mailata prepared and keeping this group together is remarkable. It’s hard to imagine Mailata being where he is without Stout.
“He’s a very short and simple guy,” Mailata said. “He keeps it short and simple and very direct. Very honest, that’s what I love and respect about the man. He’ll never butter you up. He just keeps it short, simple and very direct.”