Veterans helping Jordan Mailata make transition from rugby to NFL

Derrick Gunn | NBC Sports Philadelphia
NBC Sports Philadelphia

Imagine traveling to another part of the world to play a sport that's as foreign to you as the country you're in. You stand 6-foot-8 and weigh 346 pounds. People stare at you with an inquisitive look on their faces trying to determine if you have what it takes to make it or if you're just a novelty. Did the Eagles waste a seventh-round pick on a hunch?

Australian rugby player Jordan Mailata knows he has a long, grueling task in front of him of trying to become an NFL professional football player. Turning the unnatural into the normal. Mailata knows he's not in this challenge alone. 

"Veteran players are definitely helping me out a lot," Mailata said. "The boys, whenever I do a rep, as soon as I'm done, they come up to me straight away and give me little pointers on where my shoulders should be facing, where my hand placement should be. They've definitely been helping me a lot. They're pretty great vets to be honest."

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No one is more honest than offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. He gave an honest assessment of Mailata Monday when asked him if his pupil had what it takes to make the grade.

"I know this: he has a long way to go, and I know that he has all the critical factors you need to have to be a good offensive lineman, and a good tackle in this league," Stoutland said. "So now it's a matter of developing him as a player mentally and physically. There's a process to all this. There's no magic wand."

Mailata has already performed one trick of magically appearing on an NFL roster. The Birds will have patience with him and he's not about to disappear any time soon.

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