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Peters Has Hall Of Fame Aspirations

Rarely in this game of giants is someone overlooked who is as colossal and athletic as offensive tackle Jason Peters.

For the 6-4 tackle, it's been the story of his football career. The All-Pro left tackle was actually a tight end in college, but as a senior at Arkansas, he registered more pancake blocks (61) than receptions (21).

Leading up the 2004 NFL Draft, he was advised to participate in offensive line drills during pre-draft workouts. In doing so, Peters, a 328-pound freak of an athlete, caught the eyes of several teams. Despite a good deal of pre-draft buzz surrounding him, he ended up going undrafted.

The rest, as they say, is history. Peters joined Buffalo's practice squad and developed under the tutelage of offensive line coach Jim McNally. Just four seasons later, he became an All-Pro.

The Eagles acquired Peters shortly before the 2009 NFL Draft and he has not faced much adversity on the gridiron since. He's been a consummate professional and dominating lineman for over five seasons, now.

When longtime offensive line coach Juan Castillo moved to defensive coordinator, Peters knew he would have to adjust to a new scheme when the next offensive line coach was brought on. He just didn't know how different, yet familiar, that system would be.

The Eagles lured legendary offensive line coach Howard Mudd out of retirement. Unlike Castillo, who preferred his trenchmen to be members of the 330-pound-and-over club, Mudd's model lineman is closer to 290 pounds. However, Mudd's scheme is similar to the one McNally ran in Buffalo.

When Peters, who is at least 50 pounds heavier than the renowned coach's ideal, found out about the change, he was concerned to say the least. In the end, Mudd saw through Peters' portly exterior and recognized the all-world talent that lied beneath it.

"Our relationship started off kind of rocky," said Peters. "At first, we needed to build trust, but once we did that, we got to know each other really well."

The veteran line coach has helped transform the mammoth lineman into one of the premier blockers in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus, he is the league's most effective tackle.

"Coach Mudd has just tweaked a few little things in my game," said Peters.  "We're always working on technique and watching game film. He's making me a better player every day."

Eagles fans will see that improvement put to the test Saturday when the he lines up across from All-Pro pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware. The 260-pound outside linebacker has 96 sacks in his seven-year career. Ware notched four of those when he faced the Eagles earlier this season. Peters will look to keep Ware from hitting the century mark on his watch this weekend.

According to Pro Football Focus, and Peters himself, none of Ware's four sacks in the Week 8 meeting were attributed to the Eagles left tackle. Three were credited to quarterback Michael Vick. Said Peters, with a grin, "all four were garbage sacks."

Despite his confidence, the Arkansas-alum admires Ware, who is one of the few pass-rushers in the league who can match up with him athletically. It's a challenge that is unlike most that the dominant lineman has the opportunity to face throughout the season.

"I always look forward to going against one of the premier guys like DeMarcus," said Peters. "I get to face him twice a year and every time it's a great test for me."

Peters is one of the few linemen in the league who can block Ware one on one. Possibly more impressive than his ability to do so is coach Mudd's confidence in the 6-4 tackle to handle the challenge, especially considering they have only worked together for several months.

"I want to be a perennial Pro Bowl player and someone who eventually makes the Hall of Fame," Peters said. "Coach Mudd believes I have the talent to do so and he's helping me get to that level. He puts me in positions where I can succeed and exhibit my skills."

Despite not winning the fan vote at his position for the Pro Bowl, Peters gets the recognition he deserves from coaches and players around the league. At a position where being noticed is often times a bad thing, the eight-year veteran is happy flying under the radar.

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