On an Eagles offensive line overflowing with Pro Bowl players, there is one critical question mark.
Who will start at right guard?
The Eagles’ offense relies heavily on the line, which was rated No. 1 in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, and was the unit that made the Eagles go last season as they led the league in rushing.
But as seems to be the case this offseason, the Eagles have an answer.
Former starting left guard Isaac Seumalo has transitioned to right guard and, for now, has the endorsement of coach Nick Sirianni.
But, another question mark: Seumalo, 28, is coming off a Lisfranc sprain in his foot that required two surgeries. He only played the first three games last season.
‘WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME RECENTLY?’
“I think in this league, in this business, it’s what have you done for me recently and can you prove it today? Seumalo said. “And that’s every year, that’s every rep, that’s every practice. So I kinda approach every day like that …
“It’s been great being out there. The first day we had pads on, I just kinda took a minute. It’s been 9, 10 months since I put on cleats and pads. I’m really enjoying the moment trying to squeeze as much as I can every day.
“Those first six months after the surgery was a grueling process and all the work I put in to get to this point has been a lot.”
Should Seumalo start, he will line up between center Jason Kelce and right tackle Lane Johnson. While it sounds like an enviable position, it comes with the pressure to perform on such a top-flight line.
His teammates on the defensive line have spoken about how well Seumalo is playing.
“Stout’s [offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland] always talking about you need five guys that are working together in sync,” Seumalo said. “Especially those two guys next to you when you play at guard, you need to be as together as possible.
“Me and Lane have been close for a while now. I’ve been so lucky to play next to a Hall of Fame tackle in JP [Jason Peters], probably a future Hall of Fame in ‘Kelc,’ and now another future Hall of Famer in Lane.”
HARD WORK PAYS OFF
“Isaac has worked extremely hard to get himself back in position to play football again,” Sirianni said before Sunday’s night public practice at the Linc that drew nearly 30,000 fans.
“He’s always had that mentality. For the year I’ve been here, or the year and a half I have been here, you can always tell with Isaac of how hard he works. He works extremely hard.
“Isaac has high football IQ and he can see things happen before they happen.”
There are many more days of practice and three preseason games before the season opener at Detroit on Sept. 11. Plenty can happen.
Seumalo faces competition behind him in Jack Driscoll, Sua Opeta and impressive rookie center Cam Jurgens.
“He has that center mentality,” Sirianni said about Seumalo. “He’s able to play center, too. So, he has that mentality of knowing what to do and seeing everything.
“He’s been with Jason [Kelce] his whole career. He’s just so high football IQ. He works so hard, and then you add on top [of that] his immense talent. That’s something great to have, him and Lane working together over there on the right side.
“Isaac has played all over the interior parts of the line in his career here. Him and Lane have been together, seven years of working together in the same room. So, they’re on the same page, and that’s really important on the offensive line.”
‘BEST RIGHT TACKLE IN THE WORLD’
Sirianni also spoke with great admiration about Johnson, the Eagles starter at right tackle for eight years since he was drafted fourth overall in 2013.
- “He’s the best right tackle in the world,” Sirianni said. “To be able to say that about guys on your roster, that’s a cool thing to have, right?
- “Lane, you are the best right tackle in the world. That’s how my eyes see it, that’s how people in our building see it, that’s how our offensive coaches see it; the defensive staff sees it the same way.
- “Everyone recognizes what type of player he is. To be able to have that with your tackle is just a huge advantage for an offense, that you know that Lane Johnson has it taken care of over on the right side.
- “You don’t have to help him out, you don’t have to give him extra help. He’s one the best tackles in the NFL. The best right tackle in my eyes in the NFL. So that’s a huge thing.
- “I just see him confident in himself and playing at a very high level with his confidence and his skill, and he should be confident in himself because he’s a heck of a football player.”
Kelce, the leader of the offensive line, is a big fan of Johnson on and off the field.
“He’s big and strong, like usual,” Kelce said. “He’s athletic. I think Lane is always a guy that makes being in here more fun.
“He’s got a great personality. He’s got a great sense of humor … We’ve been through a lot. He makes coming into the building a lot more fun for myself.”