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Eagles Adding Hart And Talent On D-Line

Posted May 20, 2014

If you paid close enough attention to the 2013 NCAA football season, you probably could have deduced that the Eagles would be very interested in selecting Oregon defensive end Taylor Hart in the 2014 NFL Draft. Not only is he a rare two-gapping 3-4 defensive end with size, length, football IQ and the motor to match, but it was known he was a favorite of head coach Chip Kelly and particularly defensive line/assistant head coach Jerry Azzinaro.

“We’ve been together a long time, he’s just a great coach,” Hart said of Azzinaro. “I’m excited. We developed a good bond in college, and then coming back (to Philadelphia) and being reunited, I’m pretty excited.”

Eagles defensive linemen have been singing Azzinaro’s praises since the moment he arrived at the NovaCare Complex and starting coaching. Hart had a four-year head start on them and understands exactly why Azzinaro is so effective in his methods and loved by his charges.

“Because he cares,” said Hart, who signed his rookie contract on Monday. “He cares about the players and he wants you to be a great man, not only a great football player. He teaches us things that I would never think of, and it’s a pretty cool experience.”

For Hart, the transition from Oregon to the Eagles has been a little easier than that of his fellow rookies, aside from fellow alumnus wide receiver Josh Huff. Given the infrastructure and environment, it is almost as if he’s just been transported to Eugene East.

“I think one of the hardest part for rookies is going into a new environment and not knowing anybody,” Hart said. “Me, coming here, it helps to have familiar faces – coaches, players – so I think it really helps us out.”

Not everything is the same as it was in Oregon, of course.

“It’s just a new level,” Hart said. “It’s a different style. This is the NFL, it’s not college anymore. There are some similarities, but there’s different stuff too.”

In addition to his workmanlike and all-out style, Hart became known for something else during his time at Oregon – an untraditional three-point stance that, for lack of a better description, makes him look like a frog.

“I changed it when I was in college, too,” Hart said of the stance, “but I’m just changing it up a little bit to try and develop more.”

The fifth-round pick might not have been as talkative or expansive with his answers as the other rookies who took the podium during Rookie Media Day, but that is not his nature. Taylor Hart is someone who lets his play on the field do all the talking. He will undoubtedly become a key cog along a young, talented and deep defensive line that will only continue to get better.

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