Offensive line coach Howard Mudd didn't make nice with All-Pro offensive tackle Jason Peters when they first began working together last season at Training Camp.
Even though Peters is the most talented lineman on the team, and one of the elite talents in the entire league, Mudd didn't want Peters to settle for being simply a good offensive lineman. Mudd wanted Peters to be a dominant offensive lineman. Arguably the best offensive line coach in the game, Mudd got through to Peters and he produced the finest season of his eight-year career earning Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors.
This year, Mudd has another project assigned to him. With Peters out indefinitely due to an Achilles injury, the Eagles swiftly signed former Buffalo left tackle Demetress Bell in free agency. Bell started 30 games over the past four seasons with the Bills. Bell is not Peters, whom Mudd said was "one-of-a-kind." The only other lineman Mudd's ever coached that he's thought that highly of was nine-time Pro Bowl selection and future Hall of Fame tackle Walter Jones. However, Mudd is not concerned about the absence of Peters. He's focused on getting the most out of Bell.
"The truth of the matter is that I think Demetress has an unusual amount of athleticism," Mudd said. "I don't anticipate changing the entire offense because we don't have Jason Peters. We can win games with Demetress. We're going to win games with Demetress Bell."
Mudd returned from his extended offseason away from football to coach the start of the full-team mini-camp on Tuesday. He got to meet Bell and discuss technique when the Eagles brought him in for a visit in early April. In fact, Mudd was the person who helped unearth the proper spelling of Bell's first name (it was previously Demetrius until Bell discovered a birth certificate with the correct version). Mudd has watched the tape of the Organized Team Activities and said that he has been impressed with Bell's tough-minded spirit and desire to learn the scheme.
"He's very athletic," Mudd said. "He's exactly what I thought we were going to get when we signed him."
One of the players most impacted by Bell's addition is left guard Evan Mathis. Peters and Mathis formed a wall on the left side of the offensive line for the Eagles in 2011. However, Mathis notices a lot of the same intangibles in Bell that Mudd was impressed by.
"Demetress has done a tremendous job of getting the gameplan down, getting the playbook memorized," Mathis said. "He's a tremendous communicator on the field. He shows the passion, the desire to want to do this, to be one of the best. It's been a pleasure working with him."
Mudd had success with his first major project with the Eagles last season. The team's success in 2012 could depend on Mudd's latest project in Demetress Bell.
Make sure to follow us on Twitter @EaglesInsider