Eagles

Eagles' Jordan Mailata beyond overwhelmed at 1st practice

Eagles' Jordan Mailata beyond overwhelmed at 1st practice

If Jordan Mailata wasn’t so damn busy maybe he’d call the good folks at Merriam-Webster and ask for a little help. See, the giant 6-foot-8, 346-pound rugby player-turned NFL draft pick needs a new word for what he felt after his first NFL practice on Friday. 

Overwhelming isn’t cutting it anymore. 

“I can’t put it on a scale. That’s how overwhelming it is,” the 21-year-old said. “There’s no scale to put it on. So many things that you have to think about. Overwhelming … that’s gone out the window. There’s no word to replace overwhelming. We’ll just say overwhelming.”

Even a dip into the thesaurus won’t help Mailata. Overcome, overpowered, prostrated don’t seem to help him either. And it seems unlikely there are many lexicographers suiting up in the Eagles’ locker room. But his new teammates — even the rookies — are football players, so they can at least help him feel a little less overwhelmed as he tries to make a career of a sport he knew nothing about just a few months ago. 

Mailata doesn’t have to turn far. For now, his popup locker in the Eagles’ dressing room is right next to fellow draft pick and offensive lineman Matt Pryor out of TCU. Pryor was drafted in the round before Mailata — 27 minutes before, to be exact — and is nearly as big, at 6-7, 332. 

Relatively speaking, Pryor was a late-bloomer too. He didn’t begin playing organized football until his freshman year of high school. The Eagles’ sixth-round pick once went with his mother to watch his cousin’s football practice, when the head coach saw a 6-4 Pryor — in the middle of his growth spurt — and called him onto the field. 

“He threw me a pair of cleats,” Pryor said, “and the rest was history.” 

Despite that relatively late start, Pryor went on to have a really productive career at TCU, where he played in 46 games with 32 starts, playing guard and tackle. He hasn’t been playing football as long as a lot of rookies — he tried Pop Warner as a kid but had trouble with the weight limits — but he’s at least played for a big-time college program. Mailata has never even played in a game. Pryor and Mailata both wear size 18 shoes (see story), but Pryor put himself in Mailata’s for a brief moment. 

“Yeah, that would be hard,” Pryor said. “Especially coming from running the ball and tackling and now you have to defend people. I feel like that’s really hard to do. But he has the athletic capability and ability to do it.” 

On Friday, Mailata likened offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland’s coaching style to drowning. He said it felt like he was thrown into the deep end of a pool and his only life preservers were his teammates. 

“Thank God I had the guys up front to help me,” he said. 

During this past weekend’s three-day minicamp, there were restrictions outlined in the CBA. Players were allowed to be in the building for just 10 hours each day, which wasn’t going to cut it for Mailata as he transitions to a completely new sport. Think about how hard it was for Taylor Hart to switch sides of the ball and multiply that by a lot … or heaps or loads or a great deal or whatever synonym you want to grab from that trusty thesaurus. 

So as of Friday afternoon, Mailata was planning on going to the team hotel and burrowing his nose into the playbook. He said he even told his offensive linemen teammates he’d buy them dinner, just to try to gain a little bit more of their knowledge. 

One thing that surprised him on Friday was about how much his fellow offensive linemen were able to help him during what he called his first “training session,” using a term from his rugby days. 

On Friday, Mailata looked about as uncomfortable with his helmet as Joel Embiid looked with that protective mask or as a dog with one of those cones around its neck. Every chance he got, Mailata grabbed his facemask and pulled the helmet to rest it on the top of his head. 

It’s not just the playbook or the position that is going to be hard for Mailata to learn. It’s everything. It’s new equipment, new terms, new culture. It’s not going to be easy. 

“To make the team, it’s going to be real hard,” Mailata said. 

Hard is one way to put it. But maybe someone should call the dictionary folks, because that’s probably not going to cut it either. 

Back with Eagles, Vinny Curry had other offers, but ‘home is home’

Back with Eagles, Vinny Curry had other offers, but ‘home is home’

It’s safe to say Vinny Curry is pretty happy to be back in Philadelphia. 

Right? 

“Hell yeah,” said a giddy Curry on a conference call with Philly reporters Thursday afternoon. “Super excited!” 

After one year in Tampa Bay, the 30-year-old Curry on Thursday signed a one-year contract to return to the Eagles. According to a league source, his one-year deal is worth $2.25 million and he can earn another $1.25 million in incentives. It’s quite a different contract than the last one he signed with the Eagles and the three-year, $23 million deal he signed to join the Bucs last offseason. 

But this wasn’t all about money for Curry. 

He wanted to come back. You could feel his excitement on the other end of Thursday’s conference call. 

In fact, Curry was reportedly offered more money to join the Giants, but came back to the Eagles instead. 

Definitely had a couple different offers on the table, but home is home. This just felt right. This felt like the right situation. I think it was just time for me to be back in Philadelphia.

Curry was drafted by the Eagles in the second round back in 2012 after he grew up in Neptune, N.J. as an Eagles fan. But the real reason he wanted to come back to Philly was because of his teammates. Even though he said he had a good time during his one season in Tampa, he missed his teammates in the Eagles’ locker room. He said they’re like brothers. Curry, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham — minus last year — have played together since 2012. 

But things changed during Curry’s year away. He started every game during the 2017 Super Bowl season, but it is expected that he will come back to the Eagles this year as a rotational player, playing both defensive end and defensive tackle. Graham and Derek Barnett will be the starters at defensive end. 

“When it comes to the role, whatever the team needs me to do, I’ve always been that guy,” Curry said. “You guys know that. Whatever the team needs me to do, I’m going to do it. I don’t have an ego at all.” 

Curry even joked he would play receiver if the Eagles asked. When he was told the Eagles likely won’t ask him to do that, Curry agreed and joked he has “feet for hands.” 

The Eagles cut Curry after the 2017 season because of his contract and Curry on Thursday said he understood why they did it. It’s in the past, he said. Curry was cut for the second straight year when the Bucs parted ways with him this offseason to save $8 million in cap space. (This also means the Eagles won’t lose out on a comp pick by signing him.) 

Last season, Curry played in just 12 games thanks to a high ankle sprain he suffered in Week 6 that left him in a hard cast. But Curry is healthy now and is ready for spring practices. 

Was it a good decision to bring him back? 

Sure, why not. Curry is 30 now and maybe he’s never really lived up to his potential, but he’s a solid player who knows the defense and isn’t making a lot of money. For a rotational piece along the line, Curry makes plenty of sense. 

And he’s really happy to be back. Now, he just hopes he can figure out a way to get his No. 75 back from Josh Sweat. 

“We’re working on that,” he said. “We’re definitely working on that. Hopefully, I’m back in the 75.”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Source: Eagles bringing back Vinny Curry on 1-year deal

Source: Eagles bringing back Vinny Curry on 1-year deal

The Eagles are bringing back defensive end Vinny Curry, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. Philly.com first reported a deal was close. 

The one-year deal is worth $2.25 million and Curry can earn an extra $1.25 million in incentives, a league source said.  

Curry, 30, played six years for the Eagles before joining the Bucs last offseason. But Curry made it just one year into his three-year, $23 million contract before he was cut by Tampa Bay. The move saved the Bucs $8 million in 2019 cap space. Since Curry was cut, he won't affect the Eagles' compensatory pick formula. 

Bringing back Curry will help provide the Eagles some depth at defensive end. The plan is to start Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett, but then there isn’t much depth. Second-year player Josh Sweat is unproven. At least Curry will give the Eagles a veteran defensive end for the rotation. 

Chris Long, 34, is under contract, but has been non-committal about his future. The Eagles would still like to have him back. 

In his six seasons with the Eagles, Curry played in 84 games with 23 starts. He had 22 sacks in an Eagles uniform, with nine of them coming during the 2014 season. He never had more than four sacks in any other season. 

Curry, who grew up as an Eagles fan, was taken by the Eagles in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles