How new practice squad rules will help the Eagles offensive line in 2020

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – FEBRUARY 28: Weber State offensive lineman Sua Opeta answers questions from the media during the NFL Scouting Combine on February 28, 2019 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

The Eagles find themselves in an odd situation. The injury to Andre Dillard has forced the team to shuffle the deck when it comes to who’s playing where and how effective they can really be. The team has a lot of talent on the offensive line, but depth is questionable. The good news is, a recent rule change could provide the answers to questions flying off the lips of fans everywhere.

The Eagles vs Jason Peters conundrum

Jason Peters reportedly left more money on the table to come back home to Philadelphia. It was unfortunate that an injury to Brandon Brooks was the trade-off in the return of the bodyguard. The Ande Dillard injury naturally sparked ideas of a return to left tackle, but JP won’t slide back outside without a significant bump in pay.

While many are divided on the subject, none of this should come as a surprise. Jason Peters has always made sure his money is in line before he plays. The difference here is that the Eagles need to be aware of their cap situation, with every penny mattering.

Will the Eagles’ real Left Tackle please stand up?

The Eagles have been shuffling around a bit to see who can start for them at left tackle this season. They’ve given reps to Pryor, Mailata, and Driscoll this offseason in hopes they would be ready when the time comes. Who could take the reigns from Dillard and possibly steal the show?

Mailata is still a very unproven talent in football as the former rugby star has spent most of his career on IR and the practice squad. Pryor does have in-game experience as he played in 79 snaps on offense last year before a start against the Seahawks in the 2019 playoffs.

Then there’s the rookie, Jack Driscoll. The Auburn product has experience at the tackle position in college. While the college experience doesn’t guarantee success at the pro level, it still could help being that it’s still fresh on his mind, unlike someone such as Pryor who has been working inside on the other end of the line. During Driscoll’s collegiate career, he only allowed 2 QB hits in 837 pass-blocking snaps. He’s also looked strong in camp and could be a huge wildcard entering the season.

The Practice squad is your friend…

This year’s practice squad rules can really help the Eagles with their O-line issue. The NFL has expanded practice squads from 10 to 16 due to the COVID pandemic, with 2 ‘flex’ spots being created to allow teams to protect two players each week.

With a worryingly consistent history of injuries to the line, those extra ‘flex’ spots could be vital in calling names up in a pinch and getting them back down without the risk of losing them. While it may be worrying to throw a player like Driscoll on the practice squad the Eagles could still use it to their benefit with names like Sua Opeta and Luke Juriga being able to act as key backups on the interior. For instance, Mailata could safely be moved onto the squad without being exposed to waivers, should the Eagles require Juriga, before being added back to the final 53 if he was needed.

For the guards in particular, this will be vital. If Jason Peters does move back to left tackle, Matt Pryor will be your starting right guard. Behind him, it’s Nate Herbig. Given the shortened offseason and the urgency required here, the Eagles might want to take full advantage of those extra spots to safely rotate options on a matchup-based outlook.

While many may not have the experience, the talent and potential are there for the taking. Unfortunately, we will have to wait and see how Doug Pederson, Jeff Soutland and the team’s staff handle the carousel that is the offensive line.

Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire