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New Eagle Warmack eager to return to mentor | Paul Domowitch

Offensive lineman hopes to duplicate success he had under Jeff Stoutland at Alabama

WHEN CHANCE Warmack became a free agent in March, there was absolutely no doubt in his mind where he wanted to go.

The pupil wanted to be back with the teacher. Daniel wanted to be reunited with Mr. Miyagi.

Didn't matter that he could've made a few more bucks playing someplace else. Didn't matter that other suitors offered him a clearer path to a starting job.

He wanted to sign with the Eagles. He wanted to play for Jeff Stoutland again.

Stoutland, the Eagles' offensive line coach, was Warmack's position coach his final two years at the University of Alabama when the Tide had one of the best college offensive lines since the Seven Blocks of Granite (Google it, kids).

Together, Stoutland and Warmack helped Alabama win two national championships, which propelled Stoutland to an NFL job with the Eagles and Warmack to the Tennessee Titans as the 10th overall pick in the 2013 draft.

"The NFL is a relation-based business," Warmack said. "When you've been with a guy for two years prior to coming to the NFL and had the success we had together, it was a no-brainer (signing with the Eagles).

"The offensive line is a developmental position. You can't just jump in and play at a high level. You have to develop. I know what he gets out of players. He got a lot out of me at Alabama and he's going to get a lot out of me here."

Warmack, who started 48 games at right guard for the Titans the last four seasons, signed a modest one-year, $1.51 million deal with the Eagles.

While his goal is to win a starting job here, accomplishing that won't be easy.

The right guard spot already is filled by Brandon Brooks, and Warmack is one of four players competing for the starting left guard job, along with Allen Barbre, Isaac Seumalo and Stefen Wisniewski. Seumalo, a 2016 third-round pick, will enter training camp as the front-runner for the job.

If Warmack doesn't win the starting left guard job, he might not even make the 53-man roster. Just $500,000 of his deal is guaranteed.

Wisniewski, who can play both guard spots and center, signed a three-year, $8 million deal, $3.5 million of which is guaranteed.

Barbre, who started 12 games last year, including nine at left guard, figures to stick as the backup swing guard-tackle if he doesn't win the starting job.

"As long as I'm doing what I'm supposed to do, I'm good," Warmack said. "I know there will be a spot for me, whether it's left or right (guard)."

"We've got a lot of talent on the line," said Wisniewski. "It's going to be an interesting training camp and preseason. We'll see how it shakes out when it's over."

Warmack's four seasons with the Titans didn't go quite as well as he had hoped when they drafted him. He went from the best college football program in the country to a disorganized, struggling NFL team.

He played for three different head coaches in four years and saw a parade of players occupy the other four line spots while he was there.

"I learned how to deal with change there because I seemed to play with different dudes every week," Warmack said.

He endured a two-win season in 2014 and a three-win season in 2015. Then, last year, just as the Titans finally were starting to get respectable again, Warmack tore a tendon in the middle finger of his right hand in the second game of the season.

Even before he got hurt, the Titans already had opted not to pick up the fifth-year option on his contract. His decision to have surgery on the finger and miss the rest of the season rather than try to play through the injury didn't sit well with the team and pretty much guaranteed his exit.

"I talked to the doctor after I tore the tendon, and he told me that if I continued to play with it, it would only get worse and I might be out for the next season," Warmack said. "So I decided to get (the surgery), so I'd be ready to play this season. I'm happy I did it."

Now, he's back with Stoutland, hoping his position coach can bring out the very best in him, just as he did down in Tuscaloosa.

"I think it's really helpful for him to be back with Stout," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "For whatever reason, he just wasn't as productive (in Tennessee) as people were expecting.

"But I think there is something to the chemistry of being back with a coach that you've played some of your best football with. Stout is a great coach. I think he'll bring out the best in Chance."

A coach definitely can make a difference in a player's performance level. Case in point: Former Eagles left guard Evan Mathis, another Alabama product, had spent six years in the league as a journeyman player before signing with the Eagles in 2011 and meeting Howard Mudd.

Mudd, who is one of the best offensive line coaches in history, helped transform the athletic Mathis from a career backup into an All-Pro.

"There certainly are guys who react differently to different coaches," center Jason Kelce said. "You look at a guy like Evan. He played for something like seven different teams (actually just three) before he fell in love with Howard.

"He really took to Howard's techniques and became a terrific player. I'm sure Chance feels the same way about Stout that Evan felt about Howard.

"Things obviously didn't go the way he had planned in Tennessee. So I think he's excited to be back with Stout. Back doing the things that made him a premier college player."

Warmack has taken reps at both left and right guard during OTAs. He played left guard at Alabama before switching to the right side when he got to Nashville.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself," he said. "I want to play at a high level on both sides."

Warmack said the technique Stoutland is teaching now "is a little bit different" from what he taught at Alabama, but nothing he can't master.

"It's like riding a bike," he said. "You're not going to pick it up on the first day. But you have to keep plugging at it on and off the field."

Warmack said Stoutland really hasn't changed much since he played for him at Alabama.

"He's the same guy," he said. "He's always been the same guy. Very detailed as far as both the defense and the offense. He wants his players to know the whole thing, not just what you're supposed to do.

"He demands a lot from you. He's going to quiz you a lot. He expects the world from you. But he's going to give it back."