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Eagles’ young O-linemen getting mentorship from veterans, even if it comes with some ribbing

The joking around in offensive line meeting rooms has been described as "vicious" by a handful of members of the group this training camp.

Eagles offensive tackle Jack Driscoll (right) works on blocking drills with offensive tackle Casey Tucker during training camp at the NovaCare Complex on Saturday, July 31, 2021.
Eagles offensive tackle Jack Driscoll (right) works on blocking drills with offensive tackle Casey Tucker during training camp at the NovaCare Complex on Saturday, July 31, 2021.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Jack Driscoll is no longer anonymous in the Eagles’ building, for better or worse.

Last season’s coronavirus protocols made it difficult for players to interact the way they normally do, particularly for newly signed players and rookies such as Driscoll, whom veteran defensive end Brandon Graham mistakenly called “Jake” a few times last summer.

With the masks off and the team cafeteria back to nearly full capacity, Driscoll said Thursday that there has been a return to normalcy.

“It’s been so nice,” Driscoll said. “Even just eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with your teammates. Last year, we were sitting in those tents outside with masks on, spaced out, not really able to talk. It’s kind of tough when you’re introduced to a new group of people and you really can’t socialize that much and all your meetings are on Zoom. ... It’s been much more normal, I should say.”

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Shedding the mask and attending in-person meetings has presented at least one drawback for the 2020 fourth-round pick, though. His beardlessness has led to him being the butt of a few jokes in the offensive line meeting room, which has been described as vicious by a handful of members of the group this training camp.

“What don’t they make fun of me for? No beard — a lot of stuff,” Driscoll said. “I am [able to grow a beard], but this has just always kind of been my look. I’ve tried growing a beard, and I’ve just always kind of been clean cut. I’m going to stay that way for now, we’ll see.”

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Driscoll’s rookie season was defined by relieving Lane Johnson at right tackle early and often. The Eagles had 14 offensive line combinations last year because of injuries to nearly every starter, and Johnson was no exception, dealing with an ankle injury all year and eventually having to undergo season-ending surgery.

The former Auburn standout wasn’t in the tackle rotation during training camp last year but ended up the opening-day starter and played well considering the circumstances. Driscoll started only four games but saw action in 11.

So far in camp, he has mostly served as the second-team right tackle and has gotten a handful of reps at guard during pass-rushing drills. With Andre Dillard back in the fold after missing last season with a biceps injury, Driscoll has mostly worked on the right side during team drills, but he said he’s expected to be comfortable at multiple positions.

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“We’re going to start cross-training at guard,” Driscoll said. “As we started out, I’ve been mostly focusing on tackle and whatnot, but it’s definitely something I’ve started incorporating with the one-on-one drills and some of the [individual] work, is getting some reps at guard, too, being able to play both.”

Depending on the extent of his cross-training, Driscoll could find himself getting some first-team reps at guard in the next few weeks. Starting left guard Isaac Seumalo hasn’t practiced this training camp because of a hamstring injury that’s listed as week-to-week. Brandon Brooks, the starting right guard, is day-to-day with his own hamstring injury suffered last week. In their absences, Nate Herbig and Matt Pryor have gotten work with the starters.

Herbig, who started 12 games last season, came into training camp the lightest he has been during his career. He’s listed at 334 pounds, but Johnson said he went from around 355 to around 325 this offseason.

“We ran the hell out of him,” Johnson said. “We had a hard offseason with him. He’s been great, he’s got a great attitude. I think when he stepped in last year he performed very well. He’s just trying to keep progressing and going on. As far as his body, he’s taking it a lot more serious than he used to. He’s looking really good.”

Herbig concurred.

“He pushed me hard,” he said. “I wanted to do it, too, for myself and for the team to put myself in a better position. I wanted to be quicker, in better shape, lighter and leaner. ... I feel a lot quicker, a lot faster, I’m in better shape and I’m not as tired.”