The Eagles gave Jordan Mailata two years to wade into the shallow water, as he learned how to switch from rugby to football.
Last week, was thrown into the deep end, making his first start at left tackle in the NFL.
The Australian admits there were points in the process he wasn’t sure he was going to become comfortable in his new sport, but is beginning to get there now. Drafted in the seventh-round of the 2018 NFL Draft as a project, he understands it’s his time now.
“What year are you talking about? Year 1? Year 2? I had those times, you know, where I was like, ‘What am I doing?’ ” Mailata said, via Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News. “I’ve always asked myself that, and then realized, ‘Yeah, this is what you wanted to do.’ I have this saying: Don’t dip your toe in the water; drown in it, and learn how to swim. I always go back to that saying and it pulls me out of that dark place. . . . I’m swimming.”
They need him to stay afloat now, with veteran left tackle Jason Peters on IR with a toe injury. And it gets more difficult this week against the Steelers than his debut against the banged-up 49ers, after which he said he didn’t just want to fill Peters’ shoes, he wanted to “make my own boots.”
“It’s just an identity thing for me,” Mailata said. “Being labeled as the guy who played rugby, even using that as an excuse for giving up a sack or having a missed assignment — I’d rather have a missed assignment because I don’t know the play, I don’t want to miss the assignment because I was a rugby player.
“Trying to be my own person in this sport, and not trying to rely on someone else’s past, or even my past.”
He has no choice now, as the Eagles are dealing with so many injuries up front they need to be able to trust him.