In recent weeks as Jason Peters has neared a return from Injured Reserve, Doug Pederson has been noncommittal about where Peters would play when he actually did return.
You didn’t think that was going to change now that Peters is actually back at practice, did you?
“First of all, he’s been cleared to return to practice, so that’s exciting for us, to get him back this week and get him in the mix,” Pederson said on Wednesday morning. “Right now, it’s just a matter of him getting out there and feeling comfortable with the offensive line. We haven’t been real committal one way or the other.
“But he definitely could help us at left tackle and he’s had the right guard experience. Just basically need to see him moving around today and tomorrow and see where he can best help us.”
So if Peters does return for Sunday Night Football against the Cowboys, it’ll be at either left tackle or right guard.
It seems like the Eagles are leaning toward left tackle.
At Wednesday’s practice, Peters lined up at his old left tackle spot during the warmup period of practice. That's the position where he built a Hall of Fame career and got a pay bump to return to before the 2020 season began.
But it’s also worth noting that Lane Johnson (ankle, knee) and Jack Driscoll (ankle) were not practicing on Wednesday, so perhaps Mailata was needed at right tackle. Mailata has taken practice reps at right tackle before.
Peters’ 21-day practice window was activated earlier this week. In order to play him on Sunday, the Eagles will need to activate him by Saturday afternoon.
Peters, 38, has missed the last four games with a toe injury. He hasn’t played since the tie against the Bengals back on Sept. 27. In his place, the former rugby player Mailata has filled in. There have been ups and downs for Mailata but he has shown some very encouraging signs during his four starts so far.
“I don’t make the decision at the end of the day,” Carson Wentz said. “I know that Jason Peters has been doing this for a long time and he’s been rock solid every time he’s been in there. He’s going to be, in my opinion, a future Hall of Famer, one of the best to do it.
“I’ve been very thoroughly impressed by Mailata and really all of these guys who have had to fill in and step in. As soon as JP is back and healthy, I’m sure he’ll be ready to go. Nothing but confidence in whoever’s out there.”
When talking about Mailata on Wednesday, Pederson said the third-year player has “filled in nicely,” the wording of which seems notable.
“I think that’s a bright spot for us, having seen him play and really play against some really good defensive ends and outside linebackers,” Pederson said. “We all know that Jason Peters feels comfortable at left tackle and he’s a veteran player if that’s where we want to play him this week, even if he’s available to play.”
If Peters is at left tackle and Johnson and Driscoll aren’t ready to return, that could mean Mailata gets his first start at right tackle.
That would also mean the Eagles might end up using their seventh different offensive line combination in eight games to finish out the first half of the season.