OTA NOTEBOOK WEEK 1: OFFENSIVE LINE DIARIES
The NFL, like all professional sports, can be unforgiving and cut throat.
It is the definition of the term “Survival of the fittest” the Darwinian evolutionary theory phrase coined first by English philosopher Herbert Spencer.
A less harsh version of that more commonly used in sports is “You can’t make the club in the tub.”
The later phrase applies to rookie free agent Tyler Orlosky, a center signed out of West Virginia and veteran Allen Barbre, a versatile offensive lineman whole will turn 33 on June 22.
Both were stuck on the sideline for the first OTA sessions last week with injuries. Both need to all the practices they can be in to face the challenges making the final roster.
“I injured my knee in rookie mini-camp,” said Orlosky, who was described by NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger as the best center in the draft. “I messed up my MCL. I’ll be out 7-8 weeks.”
When you approach the highest level of your sport, you are getting notices from qualified analysts that you have a legitimate chance to do well even though you weren’t drafted, it has to disheartening to have a set back like this.
“It is,” said Orlosky at his locker after the first practice of OTAs. “Obviously injuries happen; it’s part of football. It’s something I have to deal with; it’s just going to take time to deal with.”
Orlosky was told about Baldinger’s comments as well as those by Dane Brugler of CBSsports.com and ESPN’s Mel KeIper. All believe the Eagles got one of the best if not the best rookie free agent after the draft ended.
“It’s good that people have that much faith in me that I could do that,” Orlosky said. “But obviously going from college to the NFL is completely different level of play. What I did well in college doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to be good at in the NFL. Obviously the players they have are here for a reason. Guys that have been here for 6-8-10 years, they’re proven, they’re battle tested. My main goal is to try and make the team. Obviously I’ve had a little speed bump so far, hopefully by camp I’ll be ready to go.”
Orlosky was asked how he was dealing with idea of not being to practice for up to eight week.
“You try not to think about it too much,” Orlosky said. “Like I said, injuries are part of the game; you’ve just got to take it for what it is and do the best with it.”
Orlosky was asked why he thought no one picked him. Did he have any indication why that happened, not getting drafted?
“Not really,” Orlosky said. “A lot of people, me included, were surprised. I think it goes back to what I did in college, doesn’t necessarily translate to the NFL. The offense we ran at West Virginia is a very simple spread offense. There aren’t very many plays the NFL runs, if any. They look at that. They may ask ‘can he comprehend a NFL playbook? Can he do what we ask centers in the NFL to do?’ I’m sure they looked at that.”
Barbre is dealing with a sore calf muscle and a numbers game. The Eagles drafter Isaac Seumalo last year and resigned Stefen Wisniewski , both can play his position. Barbre must be on the field to fend off the competition for the left guard position he has manned for the past two seasons.
Head coach Doug Pederson talked about Barbre’s status.
“Well, he’s (Seumalo) obviously a kid that we picked up last year in the draft,” Pederson said. “And then Allen Barbre right now is still nursing a calf, lower body injury there. So, this gives him an opportunity to work in with that first group so we can get Allen … Listen, Allen is a guy that, as you guys know, is one of the those versatile offensive linemen that can play guard and tackle. When we get Allen back, too, we want to work him not only at guard, but also at tackle.”
At the end of last season, tackle Lane Johnson said he was going to focus on diet instead of supplements. He talked about only ingesting food – like fish instead of red meat – that would help his system perform at its best.
Did Johnson stick to that idea? Apparently not.
“My main deal was just cutting out the ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s later at night, the stuff you want to indulge,” Johnson said with a laugh. “You get me on an ice cream binge and it’s not good.”
One odd sight at the OTA was that of now former defensive lineman Taylor Hart. He is now officially listed as an offensive lineman, tackle obviously as it would be for the 6-foot-6 305 pounder.
“Last year they needed a little help on offense with the scout team and stuff,” Hart said at his locker after practice. “Then here and there, coaches were like ‘ you look pretty good.’ Then the idea just came along. We’ll how it works out.”
Hart actually worked with an offensive line coach in the offseason to brush up on techniques he’ll need to convert.
“I had to gain a little weight,” Hart said with a laugh. “I was in California so I worked with an O-line coach out there. He helped me out with some drills and stuff. “If I’m going to do it…I’m going to do it.” *