Halapoulivaati Vaitai is not Jason Peters. And Joe Walker is not Jordan Hicks.
But the Eagles aren't asking them to be.
In the first game without their starting left tackle and without their starting middle linebacker, the Eagles picked up a 33-10 win over the lowly 49ers (see breakdown).
Both late-round draft picks a year ago — Vaitai was a fifth-rounder and Walker was a seventh-rounder — the two second-year players figure to have significant roles for the rest of the season. So far, so good. At least OK.
Vaitai had a rough start Sunday, giving up an early sack. It's something we've seen from him a few times over the last couple of years. But like he has in other games before, Vaitai settled in as the afternoon went on (see Roob's observations).
"I just need to work on staying calm and play with poise," Vaitai said. "I tend to overlook things and get nervous ... well, not nervous but I'm thinking a lot. I need to go out there and just calm down like [Peters] says all the time."
On the early sack he gave up, Big V said he got set a little too wide, so for the rest of the game, he tried to stay tighter next to the guard.
Head coach Doug Pederson said the Eagles went into the game trying to give both tackles some extra help but especially on the left side, where Vaitai filled in for Peters, who had started every game since Wentz became the starter last year.
"[Vaitai] settled into the game and did a nice job," Pederson said. "Again, I'll evaluate the film tomorrow and get a chance to make the necessary corrections. But I think, overall, he filled in well and we'll get him ready next week again."
The Eagles elected this week to keep Lane Johnson at right tackle and simply replace an injured Peters with Vaitai. Big V has played more on the right side than the left but said he is starting to feel comfortable on the left too.
As for Walker, he's technically a starter now, but he won't be playing a ton down the stretch, at least by comparison. He'll be in the Eagles' base package, which is on the field for about 30 percent of the team's snaps.
How did Walker think he played?
"We'll go back, we'll review the tape and we'll see," he said. "I've got some stuff I need to work on definitely."
While Walker will be the odd man out when the Eagles go to their nickel package — Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks will be on the field in those situations — he did technically get the first start of his NFL career Sunday.
That also meant getting announced and running out of the tunnel before the game.
"Oh man, it was something I'll never forget," he said. "Just the energy from the crowd, the atmosphere, I'll never forget it."