Surviving Camp Part 4: Jordan Mailata learning from all-time greats

Surviving Camp Part 4: Jordan Mailata learning from all-time greats

Over the next few weeks of training camp, as the Eagles try to decide who to keep on their 53-man roster, we’ll be catching up weekly with former Australian rugby player and Eagles’ seventh-round pick Jordan Mailata to track his progress as he tries to defy the odds and make the Eagles’ roster less than a year after starting his quest to play American football. 

Surviving Camp Part 1: This is all new

Surviving Camp Part 2: More comfortable with guitar in hand

Surviving Camp Part 3: Staying relaxed before first game 

Jordan Mailata thought he had a good week of practice. He thought he was showing even more improvement. And he wanted the chance to show that against the Patriots last Thursday. 

Then he played just four snaps. 

“I had a lot of good highs and expected to carry that into the game,” Mailata said, “and got just four snaps. There’s nothing I can do about that; I don’t control that.” 

What Mailata can control, he does. Like well before Thursday’s game when he had a long training session with future Hall of Famer Jason Peters. Really, that was probably the most productive part of Mailata’s day. 

While most young offensive linemen in the NFL have probably worshipped Peters since they were in middle school, Mailata has known about Peters for several months. He learned about Peters watching film while he was in Florida training to try to make a career of American football. It makes sense: if you’re trying to teach a giant Aussie who has never played a snap of football in his life to play offensive tackle, watching Peters is a good start. 

When Mailata was at IMG Academy in the winter, he was shown videos of several top offensive linemen like Trent Williams, Tyron Smith, Lane Johnson, and, of course, Peters. 

“Then seeing J.P. in person, seeing him train, that’s another thing,” Mailata said. “He’s like an alien. He’s a freak. He really is.”

Peters has plenty on his plate. He’s been working his way back from a season-ending ACL injury and subsequent surgery but is committed to helping his rookie teammates, including a guy who has never played before. 

Mailata said during practice that after the first-team reps are done, the first- and third-teams watch the second stringers face off. That leaves some time for the perennial Pro Bowler and the former rugby player to chat. The former gives the latter plenty of tips. 

“Honestly, I’m so lucky to be where I am right now,” Mailata said. “I think recognizing that, the players that are in the locker room, especially the veterans, we as rookies are incredibly blessed. Because not only do the coaches go out of their way, the players do too. They give us little tips.”

But that advice doesn’t just come from his teammates on the offensive line. A few times during training camp, Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett, who was acquired earlier this offseason, was seen spending some time working with Mailata after practice. 

The main area Bennett stressed to Mailata was about his hand placement and punching. The cool thing is, as camp went on, Bennett saw the progress and then went back to Mailata with more advice. Next time, he stressed the importance of staying balanced. 

“Michael B, he’s been a big help,” Mailata said. “He’s always encouraging me.” 

It seems pretty clear that despite how raw Mailata is, his veteran teammates see the potential and want desperately to help bring it out. 

His goal for the next week 
“I think I just need to keep working on the same stuff again. This week, keep my pad level low in the run game and in pass pro as well. Just keep playing with low hips. That’s the massive feedback I’ve gotten from Stout. Now that we get limited reps, it’s very critical in the training session.”

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Terrell Owens launches 'COVID-19 Driveway Challenge' complete with situp video

Terrell Owens launches 'COVID-19 Driveway Challenge' complete with situp video

Never one to be left out, Terrell Owens has chimed in with his own social distancing home workout challenge, and it will take Eagles fans back.

Owens, aiming for people spending extra time at home during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, launched the "COVID-19 Driveway Challenge" on Monday evening, piggybacking off recent home exercise social media trends like the "See 10, Do 10" pushup videos.

Owens attempted to start his own movement with a video, filmed in a driveway, eerily similar to the classic 2005 situps he did while holding out as a member of the Eagles:

"All y'all stayin' at home, stayin' safe, let's get this workout in," Owens says in the video. "I need 19 situps, just like I did back in '04, '05, when I did my situps in the driveway." 

Say what you will about Owens: he's nothing if not on brand, even during a global health crisis.

Owens didn't detail whether he's looking to raise money for COVID-19 research, or simply awareness about responsible social distancing.

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Why ESPN picking Carson Wentz over Aaron Rodgers isn't an insane take

Why ESPN picking Carson Wentz over Aaron Rodgers isn't an insane take

ESPN's First Take is a build-your-own hot take generator, but former NFL quarterback and current ESPN personality Dan Orlovsky usually tries to stay away from saying stuff just for reaction.

Which is why Orlovsky's assessment Monday of the five best quarterbacks in the NFC generated so much... discussion? Fury? It was kind of both.

Orlovsky said, in no uncertain terms, that he ranks Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz as the fourth-best QB in the NFC, behind Russell Wilson (yep), Tom Brady (likely), and Drew Brees (yep). 

This, of course, puts Wentz ahead of Aaron Rodgers:

Unsurprisingly, Orlovsky had to deal with angry football fans all day, sifting through tons of tweets calling him out of whack and (kind of hilariously) demanding he be drug tested. You can go look at his timeline for the horror show.

I'm here to defend Orlovsky. Yes, Rodgers is one of the greats. And yes, in a vacuum there is zero comparison between the Packers legend and Wentz.

But heading into the 2020 season, knowing what we know about each QB, I'm also taking Wentz.

Rodgers has seen his completion percentage fall in each of the last four seasons, he posted the second-lowest yards-per-attempt mark of his career in 2019, and he turns 37 in December. Last year, he tossed too many errant passes on would-be easy completions. It felt like he'd turned the corner, and his prime was over.

Wentz, on the other hand, made do with embarassingly bad skill position players and led the Eagles to the playoffs with numerous clutch throws in December.

One of Rodgers' greatest remaining skills is his ability to avoid interceptions, throwing just six over his last 32 regular season games. You know who else has low INT numbers? Wentz, who posted a higher completion percentage than Rodgers in 2019 while working with you and me at wide receiver.

And Wentz, a decade younger than Rodgers and still growing as a passer, also has the added benefit of being an athletic, mobile quarterback.

The greats age, and eventually are no longer great. It happens, and it's happening here.

It took guts for Orlovsky to put Wentz ahead of Rodgers in 2020, but I'm glad he did - because now everyone else can do the same.

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