In his 16th NFL season, at the age of 37, Jason Peters knows how to ramp up to play football. He knows what it takes to get his body and his mind right, to work through the dance steps required to play left tackle. When the Eagles report to the NovaCare Complex on July 24 to begin the 2019 Training Camp, Peters will be there.
He’ll be ready to ball.
Among all the stories on this Eagles roster – and there are plenty, to be explored more in depth when camp opens – Peters is one of the more remarkable. You know about his transition from undrafted tight end to first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame left tackle, but his journey is more nuanced and, thus, to be appreciated more.
It’s not just that Peters began his NFL career in Buffalo as a long-shot tight end and then moved to right tackle a year later and then a season after that was splitting his time between left and right tackle. It’s not just that he was a Pro Bowl player when the Eagles worked out a trade with the Bills to acquire Peters – giving up a pair of first-round draft picks in the deal – and then he took his game up another notch when he arrived in Philadelphia.
Peters has been through it all in this league – overcoming the undrafted label, changing position, enduring a trade, beating an Achilles injury, roaring back after a knee injury – and he’s still standing, playing good football, and slated to be the team’s starting left tackle in 2019.
“That guy’s amazing,” right guard Brandon Brooks said of Peters. “The way he prepares, the tactician that he is and the athlete that he is at his age is pretty incredible. He isn’t done yet. He’s going to keep playing at a high level.”
How does Peters do it? How does he keep his performance level so high 16 freakin’ years into his career? The NFL swallows up bodies, devours souls. Players stay employed until they can’t fend off challenges from the long line of contenders for playing time. Peters has stood the test of time. He’s shooed off the competition.
He’s still the king.
“Playing with him for one year and being around him and seeing how he treats his craft has been so beneficial,” offensive tackle Jordan Mailata said. “He takes a lot of time to help me. He knows I came here without any football background and that I was starting from the ground floor. I’ve come a long way. I’m a lot more comfortable about the game of football. Jason has had a big hand in my development.”
Part of Peters’s long-term success is due to the fact that he is, in the best of ways, a genetic freak. His nimble feet, his athletic ability, and his size and balance and explosiveness, those are just things that can’t be taught. Peters was blessed with incredible skills. Peters has an extremely high IQ for the game and he’s coachable – evidenced by his move from tight end to offensive tackle and from Buffalo’s scheme to the ones he’s had in Philadelphia.
More than that? Offensive coach Jeff Stoutland thinks so.
“He’s just a rare kind of guy and we should all appreciate that Jason Peters is maybe a once-in-a-generation talent,” offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland said. “I know that Jason is always going to be ready to answer the bell. He’s got a total comprehension of what is required to perform at a high level day in and day out. I consider myself blessed to have been in position to coach Jason. Every day, he amazes me.”
The Eagles are counting on Peters as the left tackle this season, his 11th with the team. Peters has the task of protecting the blind side of quarterback Carson Wentz, and he’s going to have a season full of young whippersnapper right defensive ends coming after him, trying to knock off the king.
A quiet man, Peters isn’t going to say a whole lot during the year. He’s not much of a talker. He just goes out there and lines it up the right way and does everything right and just keeps balling. Somewhere, right now, Peters is working out and honing his body and perfecting his footwork and marrying his hand placement and then getting his downtime in.
Peters is getting ready for another season and a slate of weekly man-to-man combats. There is nothing more special than isolating your attention on Peters as he wins the left edge and keeps Wentz clean for a full 60 minutes using everything he is working on right now – the feet, the hands, the power, and the style.
Appreciate watching No. 71 in 2019 and, hopefully, for years to come. We don’t know how much Peters has left in that tank of talent and desire, so we’re going to marvel along the way.