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Spadaro: Offensive line wants to carry the weight of the team

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

They own the back right corner of the Eagles' locker room at the NovaCare Complex, and it's a very lived-in feel. The starting offensive linemen, whose lockers are side by side, have very much of a "brotherhood" vibe because, as the grunts, they rely on each other for success and they understand that there aren't many outside of that group who can possibly understand what they go through.

"It's a paranoia that you live with every day," right tackle Lane Johnson said. "We know what it's like to live in the trenches and to prepare every day. You can't let down. One play can make a difference in a football game or in somebody taking a big hit. So, we kind of keep it amongst ourselves and we work together knowing that we have each other's back and that if you want to have success, that's the only way to achieve it."

Take a look around the NFL, just a quick sampling off the top of your head, and understand how teams are stacked along the offensive line. Dallas is looking to replace left tackle Tyron Smith. Tampa Bay has had an offseason of defections and injuries. Detroit recently placed starting right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai (Big V to all of us) on Injured Reserve this week. The Giants have been working on their offensive line for years. Washington won't have All-Pro right guard and Eagles nemesis Brandon Scherff, who signed with Jacksonville in the offseason.

And so on and so on and so on ...

"That's what happens around the league," Johnson said. "There is always a lot of change."

Not so with the Eagles. Not this season. They return intact along the offensive line and they're bolstered by the encouraging return of the underrated Isaac Seumalo, a left guard last season who spent much of the season on IR. He's come all the way back and is now projected to start at right guard, with second-year man Landon Dickerson at left guard. Jordan Mailata is the left tackle, Jason Kelce is the center, and, of course, Johnson is at right tackle. Both Kelce and Johnson were All-Pro players a season ago.

Depth? Plenty of it because, as we know, injuries are gonna happen. That's just the way it is in The League.

No matter how it shakes out, the Eagles feel they are ready up front. They enter this 2022 regular season feeling great about their state of preparedness.

"I believe that we've done a great job, not only during this Training Camp but in the offseason, really this whole year, of preparing, going over all the details, and I think we've built a lot of chemistry and a lot of trust amongst every guy in that room," Dickerson said. "No matter who is on the field come Sunday, we all know our alignment, our assignment, technique, how we're going to execute things.

"I think we're in a good place as far as the O-line room goes. We've all kind of worked together to become one unit."

Maybe you take it for granted by this point that Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Jeff Stoutland, along with Assistant Offensive Line Coach Roy Istvan, are just going to make it work. Somehow. Some way. I urge you to step back and understand how special this is that the Eagles have so much going for them up front. They invest in the lines of scrimmage in every way and the investment pays off.

Against a Detroit front seven that promises to play with a lot of aggressiveness and sass led by ends Charles Harris (breakout 2021 season with 7.5 sacks) and Aidan Hutchinson (the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft), the Eagles must be sound and assignment-secure in a hostile environment. This is nothing new for the unfazed guys up front.

"Stout is going to coach us super-detailed every day and that's what you want," Seumalo said. "He's always got something for every development and every scheme. We are always prepared for anything that happens on the field. And we know he has our best situations in mind for our lives off the field. He's widely respected in the coaching world. I just love a coach who is so into it as he is and who wants the very best for his players. He cares a ton about our development on and off the field.

"We know when we line up on Sunday, we're going to be ready. He does a great job eliminating as much gray area as possible. At the end of the day, it comes down to us doing our jobs, winning our one-on-ones and all of that stuff. But he tries to make everything as simple as possible for us so we can play as fast as possible, so we can play our best."

That's the goal for Sunday and the Eagles are well into the preparation stage for it. They know Detroit is going to be aggressive. They know the Lions will throw in some wrinkles not before seen. And they know that they will have a schematic answer for everything because that's just the way it's done around here.

"Put it all on us," Johnson said. "I think we like it that way. Always have. I think we take that responsibility, anyway. It's kind of the nature of what we do."

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