Halapoulivaati Vaitai got his first taste of NFL reality.
The Eagles acquired second-year wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham from the Tennessee Titans sending away offensive tackle Dennis Kelly on Tuesday. The news stunned the rookie tackle Vaitai as he realized he would have to cope with his mentor's departure.
"Dennis was one of the first guys I came in contact with," Vaitai said. "Especially helping me with the process this year and trying to help me improve my technique and helping me understand the offense."
The offensive lineman took to Kelly not long after becoming an Eagle. The two were both fifth-round draft picks of the Eagles, and Vaitai learned early that he could lean on Kelly for advice on the field. However, the reality of the NFL workplace set in on Tuesday morning.
"He was like that big brother to me," Vaitai said. "To see him leave I'm like, 'Man,' because I always ask him questions. But that's life."
Head coach Doug Pederson shared his sentiments that the trade benefited both the Eagles and Kelly alike.
"First of all, this is a great opportunity for Dennis Kelly, now, great opportunity," Pederson said shortly after the trade was completed. "Had a chance to speak with him (Tuesday) morning and wished him well and he's got a great opportunity there in Tennessee."
For the Eagles, Pederson believes the new acquisition of Green-Beckham will help strengthen the receiving corps.
"Big, tall, strong, physical receiver. He can make plays," Pederson said. "There's not a ton of current game film on him, so we had to kind of dive back into his history a little bit of watching some (college) games. We really liked him and were intrigued with him; obviously his size and speed. We look forward to getting him in here and getting him going."
In spite of the Kelly's departure, Vaitai intends to heighten his level of play. In fact, the Texas native with Polynesian roots feels the deal will inspire him.
"I'm going to use it as motivation," Vaitai said. "There's some things that I need to improve and to continue that I would have to step up and not be a rookie and I have to play like a veteran."
Howie Roseman said that it was the emergence of Vaitai and third-round pick Isaac Seumalo that made the trade a possibility. Pederson also spoke highly of his young tackle.
"He's one of the young guys we're keeping our eye on," Pederson said. "He's doing a great job. He's working hard. You know, just got to keep detailing his work. But he's getting close. He's pushing those guys to get some quality reps."