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Hart Trying To Make It As OT With Eagles


The final week of 2017 OTAs kicked off on Monday, as the Eagles hit the practice fields at the NovaCare Complex.

An all-state offensive tackle at Tualatin High School in Oregon, Taylor Hart was moved to the other side of the ball at the University of Oregon and selected by the Eagles as a 3-4 defensive end in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He's made the move back to the offensive line in an attempt to find a positional home in this league, and the transition is a difficult one.

"Playing at the high school level and then going straight to the NFL is like driving a Prius and then going to a Ferrari," Hart said. "That's how I would say it."

Hart is working at it, though. He spent his offseason in California working with a personal coach, Doug Smith, just to get introduced to some of the footwork mechanics. Still, Hart faces tough odds to make the 53-man roster on a team loaded along the offensive line.

"It's just that you're going backward instead of going forward," Hart said. "There are things like that, with time, that I think I'll feel more comfortable with."

If there is a role model out there, it's Alejandro Villaneuva, the former Eagle who tried to make it here as a defensive end and then went to Pittsburgh and became a starter at offensive tackle for the Steelers. Hart has spoken to Villaneuva, who gave it a go with the Eagles in the summer of 2014, Hart's rookie season. Villaneuva's advice: Stay grounded.

No question it all starts with the feet for offensive linemen and Hart is learning the dance moves from scratch. After a "redshirt" first NFL season in which Hart built up his body to play along the defensive line, he played in 14 games in 2015 for the Eagles. Last season, Hart played with both San Francisco and the Eagles, seeing action in one game for the 49ers.

When he rejoined the Eagles after being released by San Francisco, Hart often worked on the scout team as an offensive tackle, and it led to something more: A real, honest effort at moving to offensive tackle for good.

So that's what Hart is doing as he tries to establish some roots in the NFL.

"Once you get the pads on, it's for real. Right now, you can do a little bit, but you don't really know things as far as a bull rush or things like that," Hart said. "The footwork is definitely more challenging. I used my hands a lot on the D-line. The feet is where it all begins."

Hart has been playing the right side of the offensive line in the Organized Team Activities, but he said he could move to the left side in time.

Right now, Hart just wants to dance like an offensive tackle. His progress has been slow, but steady.

"I think I've got a long road ahead of me," Hart said. "We haven't even put on pads yet, so I have a lot of work and fundamentals I have to work on. The first day here, I was swimming in the deep end. I'm trying to stay calm and do my technique, and if I can do that my athletic ability will help me out."

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