Christian Hackenberg's dressing area in the NovaCare Complex is as temporary as, perhaps, his ultimate time as an Eagle. While Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, and Nate Sudfeld have lockers located to the immediate left as you enter the room, Hackenberg's is in the center of the room, among all the other long shots trying to make this 53-man roster.
"I never thought I would be in this situation three years ago," said Hackenberg, a 2016 second-round draft pick of the New York Jets. "But you have to remember that you're in a marathon. This is not a sprint. A career takes time to unfold."
The Eagles signed the Penn State product on August 12, a no-risk transaction so that they could take a look at him through the remainder of Training Camp and the preseason. To date, Hackenberg has not played in a preseason game, but head coach Doug Pederson, when asked on Sunday during his press conference if he "had a plan to play" Hackenberg, said, "Yes."
So maybe that means Hackenberg, who has practice squad eligibility, will play in the preseason finale against, who else, the Jets.
"That would be great. I'm looking forward to it," Hackenberg said. "These last couple of weeks, it's been good for me. It's been refreshing, learning from the ground up how it works here. The coaching staff is outstanding and I appreciate the work they've put into me. I'm comfortable enough with the offense to go out there and play and have success. Working with Press (Taylor, quarterbacks coach) and being in that quarterback room, it's been refreshing. I'm having fun."
Hackenberg didn't have much fun in his two seasons with the Jets. He saw extensive playing time in the preseason but didn't do enough for the coaches to give him a shot in the regular season, even as the Jets floundered in the standings. New York traded Hackenberg to Oakland in May, and he lasted there less than a month.
Between then and when the Eagles signed him, Hackenberg worked on his game, trying to tighten his mechanics. He tried out for the Eagles in the summer and the team liked enough of what it saw to give Hackenberg another opportunity. While Hackenberg's reps have been limited in practice, the Eagles have had him concentrating on a package of plays and working extra time with him – during practice, after practice, and before preseason games – to hone his footwork, his release point, and his pocket presence.
There is no pressure here for Hackenberg to turn the franchise around, as was the case in New York. That's been beneficial.
"Yeah, I feel like I can breathe a little bit and learn. More than anything, this has been a learning experience to see how the organization works and to see how they develop players," Hackenberg said. "It's been a blast. I'm developing. If I get the chance to play on Thursday, I'm looking forward to seeing how it all translates to the field. Being here, it's been good for my game and for me.
"I don't know what the plan is for me. I just want to play my best every chance I get."