Hart is ‘Fully Invested’ in O-Line
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — He's not a nine-time Pro Bowl selection or a future Hall of Famer like Jason Peters but the Eagles new offensive tackle Taylor Hart can now lead his own resume with a pretty impressive accomplishment.
When Philadelphia brought Hart back to take the roster spot of Peters, the star left tackle whose season ended on Monday night when he tore both the ACL and MCL in his right knee against Washington, it was official: Hart was one of the few people on the planet who has made an NFL roster as both a defensive lineman and now an offensive lineman.
That's quite a niche and one that began in the offseason when the Eagles decided Hart's skill set and athleticism would project better on the offensive side of the ball, something Hart bought into.
Originally brought in as a five-technique defensive end by Chip Kelly in 2014, Hart spent two years in that role for the Eagles before being released during the final cutdown last season, the team's first under Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz, who switched from Kelly's preferred 3-4 to a more traditional 4-3 defensive scheme.
Kelly brought Hart out to San Francisco with him and the Oregon product spent nearly two months with the 49ers before being released. The Eagles, meanwhile, needed help at defensive tackle at the time and brought Hart back off waivers.
During the offseason, the Eagles shifted Hart to the offensive side of the ball, obviously an extremely difficult transition at the professional level but Hart slowly progressed and made a run at the final roster before ultimately being released. A spot on the practice squad would have been in play but Hart didn't have any eligibility for that because of his previous work on the D-Line.
Hart had a decision to make, continue dedicating himself to becoming a better offensive lineman or revert back to what he knew best.
The latter likely would have been the easier path but Hart received enough positive feedback from Jeff Stoutland and the Eagles' coaching staff to go all in on the offensive side when it came to his future.
Hart began working with Hall of Fame tackle Jackie Slater in California and got the call when Peters went down.
“I’ve been working out and I’ve been working with O-Line coach Jackie Slater," Hart told reporters at his new locker on Thursday. "I’ve been working with him back in California and me and him have been working, just waiting for a phone call. ...We kind of worked on everything. I wanted to become a better football player, and he’s helped me with that.”
So why not revert back to the defensive line?
"I’m fully invested in [the move]," Hart explained. It’s tough being at home for awhile. But I’m going to stick with it and try to prove myself."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen