It began as a "let's-see-what-he-can-do" experiment taking Taylor Hart from a defensive tackle position and transitioning him to offensive tackle and it has become a real thing. As in, Hart is a member of a 53-man roster as an offensive tackle, back with the Eagles as he takes the roster spot created when left tackle Jason Peters was placed on Injured Reserve.
Hart, who played through the preseason at tackle and made great improvement each time out on the field, made sure to use the two months between the time he was released as the Eagles cut their roster to 53 players prior to the start of the regular season and now to improve his game and get ready for a call, any call, from an NFL team.
Well, the Eagles called. And Hart passed the test, working out for the team this week and signing a two-year contract. Working with Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman Jackie Slater, the offensive line coach at Azusa Pacific University in California helped Hart build on the progress he made in the spring and summer with the Eagles.
"I was always hoping something would happen and I'm grateful to be back," Hart said on Thursday, his first day of practice. "From defensive line to offensive line, there is a lot of work to get down, so I'm just going to keep working and keep improving every day.
"My comfort level has improved a lot. It's huge. Being able to play in the preseason and get some live reps, it was big for my confidence, and I'm just glad to be back."
Hart was an outstanding offensive tackle in high school, but was then moved to the defensive line at the University of Oregon. The Eagles selected Hart in the fifth round of the 2014 draft – as a defensive tackle.
It wasn't until after the 2016 season that the Eagles moved Hart to the offensive side of the ball after he chipped in with some late-season scout team work, taking reps in practice as an offensive tackle. What started as an experiment has blossomed into something tangible for Hart, who is going to be counted on to add depth at the tackle positions behind starters Lane Johnson and Halapoulivaati Vaitai.
"I'm familiar with the technique and the playbook, so I'm just going to keep working," Hart said. "It's good to be back in the locker room. I missed it. I missed the guys. Things are going well here and I'm excited to be back to help the team keep it going."