Philadelphia Eagles News

Can Howard Be The Next Jason Peters?

He was a tight end in college. He was not drafted. He became a left tackle. He's now a three-time Pro Bowl selection.

Yes, that's Jason Peters.

He, too, was a tight end in college. He, too, became a left tackle. He, too, was not drafted. No, he's not a Pro Bowl selection.

That is, not yet, at least.

Following in the footsteps of Peters wouldn't be bad for former Northern Iowa offensive tackle Austin Howard, a rookie free agent who got the chance to step in during the post-draft mini-camp and play left tackle on the second team.

""You know getting a chance to prove yourself, for me, I really want to step up to the task," Howard said. "With good athletes on the field I know what the coaches expect and Coach (Juan) Castillo did an awesome job making sure enough of the plays and these practices are about getting the technique down."

Primarily used as a blocking tight end, Howard started all 13 games in 2007 and caught five passes for 38 yards and a touchdown. He was moved to left tackle the following season and earned second-team All-Missouri Valley Conference honors. In 2009, he was named to the American Football Coaches Association's All-American team.

And there he was at the post-draft mini-camp, helping protect another three-time Pro Bowl selection in Michael Vick.

"At first, you're star struck. Michael Vick. Quarterback. That's awesome, but out here he's just another one of the guys," Howard said. "He helps out as much as he can. He's been a really big help."

Rookie free agents have thrived in Philadelphia. Center Jamaal Jackson was once a rookie free agent. Pro Bowl strong safety Quintin Mikell and linebacker Akeem Jordan are just two other examples of players who somehow were lost in the draft process.

Howard is still raw, but in the hands of Castillo could help push to become a valuable backup as a rookie. And who knows? Maybe he will follow in the footsteps of Peters one day down the line.

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 8:30 p.m., May 23

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