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The lone true bright spot of last night’s preseason clunker at Lincoln Financial Field was rookie left tackle Jordan Mailata, the Australian rugby player who – by his own admission – knew as “little as peanuts” about American football just five months ago.

When the Eagles used a seventh round draft pick on Mailata this spring, a lot of people thought the team was nuts. Myself included.

But Mailata has proven everybody wrong – and the Eagles right. Last night against the New York Jets, playing left tackle for most of the game, Mailata showed terrific technique, real power and toughness. He’s going to make this football team – and has a real chance to contribute right away this season.

Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, who scouted Mailata and worked him out before the Eagles drafted him, made Mailata his personal project this summer – using some pretty tough love to coach him up on the finer techniques of playing offensive line. Mailata has taken his 6-8, 345-pound frame and his pure athleticism and impressed the crusty Stoutland, the rest of the Eagles coaching staff and front office – and his teammates.

Mailata had two false start penalties last night, but most of the time he was so quick off the ball that Eagles game color commentator Mike Mayock, one of the nation’s leading draft experts, praised him profusely. Veterans Lane Johnson and Jason Peters have helped Mailata, teaching him that the key is to beat his man off the snap.

“It’s like little kids going to Disneyland,” he said after last night’s game. “It really is. I’m really lucky and fortunate. I have a future Hall of Famer and Pro Bowl tackle helping me out a lot. The tips that they give me are very invaluable, so I’m very lucky and blessed to have the teammates that I do. I see them like my older brothers, and I look up to them as well. It’s pretty good.”

 

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