Head coach Doug Pederson announced on Wednesday that rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai will fill in as the starting right tackle for Lane Johnson, after the NFL announced that Johnson's 10-game suspension was upheld on Tuesday. Sunday's matchup against NFC East division rival, the Washington Redskins, will be Vaitai's first NFL game.
Coach Pederson described Vaitai as someone who has "worked extremely hard" since joining the team as a fifth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
"He's another one of those kids that's gone against our defensive front not only through Training Camp but practice against them every single day," Pederson said. "Smart kid. Athletic kid. Strong kid. Just excited to watch him play on Sunday."
Playing Vaitai at right tackle allows the Eagles to keep Allen Barbre as the starting left guard, where he's played very well through the first four games.
Although Vaitai is starting without any NFL regular-season experience under his belt, Coach Pederson said confidently, "A full week of practice with him and he will be fine."