Jordan Mailata is a fan of analogies so he dropped a nutty one when trying to make sense of his recent promotion. Forrest Gump had chocolates. Mailata has peanuts. The fun-loving kid from Australia compared himself to half a bag of peanuts while calling Jason Peters the whole damn peanut factory.
Translation: Mailata still has a long way to go in his development as a starting-caliber left tackle in the NFL. Mailata, a seventh-round pick in 2018, came to the Eagles with no experience playing organized football. His rugby highlights were enough to earn the 6-foot-8, 346-pounder a roster spot. Now he’ll look to make the left-tackle spot his own after taking Peters’ job following season-ending surgery to Lane Johnson.
“We’ll stick with the peanuts,” Mailata said when a reporter encouraged him to provide an analogy. “I’m just over half a bag and I’m trying to catch up to Jason Peters’ peanut factory.”
It’s not the first time Mailata has used the peanut analogy. The 23-year-old previously stated he isn’t trying to fill anyone’s shoes — no, Mailata wants to make “his own boots” — and a rash of injuries along the Eagles’ offensive line has given him an unexpected opportunity. It’s next man up and this combination upfront is the best formula for winning.
“It tells me that this is the best lineup we can get with the numbers that we have,” Mailata said. “It’s unfortunate that we’re injury crippled, and we’ve always had this mentality of next man up, and that’s truly what this organization believes in. I feel like whatever it is, go back to right tackle, play left tackle, be that extra tight end in packages, I’ll do that. I don’t really think about it too much, just come here and do my job and get better every day.”
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Peters Still Coaching Big Aussie Up
The injury to Johnson forced the Eagles to come up with their 10th different offensive line combination this year. The team also lost Sua Opeta, one of their top reserve guards, for at least three weeks with a back injury. Peters, the future Hall of Fame left tackle, offered to move over to right guard for the foreseeable future. According to Mailata, Peters has made a “smooth” transition and continues to mentor the youngster on how to improve his craft.
“Jason Peters looks great at right guard. It’s incredible how a guy can just go from left tackle to right guard in such a short amount of time,” Mailata said. “He looks really smooth at the position, tremendous respect for JP. It just makes you realize how incredibly lucky I am to have mentors like Jason Kelce and Jason Peters. Even at right guard, JP is still coaching me up.”
Speaking of Kelce, Mailata couldn’t muster enough kind words for the Eagles’ selfless “Iron Man.” The All-Pro center will make his 100th consecutive start this week on “Monday Night Football.” Mailata credited Kelce for teaching him the art of “combination blocking” and how to “understand angles” when he was a rookie.
“I have to give my hats off to Kelce and everything he does for this team,” Mailata said. “It just goes unnoticeable sometimes, and just the effort that the man has in every practice, in every meeting, just his true passion for the game, you really see — the term when people wear their heart on their sleeve, it comes out with Jason Kelce. That’s really him.”
Andre Dillard Making Impact at Practices
Andre Dillard has been spotted out at practices, often joking with teammates and getting work in on a side field. The heavily scrutinized first-round pick was supposed to be the starter at left tackle before suffering a season-ending biceps injury on Aug. 27. Dillard won’t return this year but, perhaps ironically, might have to win his job back from Mailata in 2021. Mailata had only positive things to say about the second-year tackle’s influence on the locker room.
“Dre’s been awesome. He’s just been all locked into the game plan, hats of to the guy,” Mailata said. “I was in a similar situation last year when I was off to the side as well and going to the meetings. He’s done a great job of staying in tune to the gameplan and he’s an awesome guy who is still learning.”
Dillard’s best asset has been his infectious smile. He looks matured despite being on IR.
“Cracking a smile all around,” Mailata said of Dillard. “I think he feels much more comfortable this year coming into his second year, much more of a noticeable difference in terms of his character.”
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