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Why Eagles' Tyler Steen was so disappointed with his rookie year

The second year right guard is motivated to make a name for himself after coming off a quiet rookie season.

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It was his one taste of the NFL, and Tyler Steen has had 6 ½ months to dwell on it.

“When I look back at it, I mean, probably didn't play as well as I wanted to play,” Steen said.

Steen played 71 offensive snaps as a rookie last year and 62 of them came in his first and only start, at right guard in the first Dallas game with Cam Jurgens out with a foot injury and his replacement, Sua Opeta, dealing with a hip injury.

The Eagles said nice things about Steen after the game – which the Eagles won – but it was telling that later in the season, with Jurgens out again, it was the undrafted Opeta who started vs. the Seahawks and Giants and not the highly touted rookie 3rd-round pick.

“We won the game, so that was great,” Steen said Wednesday. “But as far as individually, I was kind of a little disappointed. And I really just want to prove that I'm a better player than that. So that's kind of what I want to focus on.”

As soon as the season ended, Steen set out to make himself a better player. You always hear about the big jump players make from Year 1 to Year 2. That’s what Steen is shooting for.  

Steen lined up with the first offense at right guard on Wednesday, but starting in an OTA practice in May is a far cry from starting in the opener against the Packers.  

“I know I've got to earn it every day,” he said. “I'm not going to be given anything. I've got to prove that I should be able to play. So that's just kind of how I'm looking at it and how I'll continue to look at it.”

Last year was a big year of transition for Steen, who not only had to get used to the NFL after playing at Alabama but had to adjust to guard after playing tackle in college.

“Really a lot farther (along) mentally and physically from last year,” he said after an OTA practice Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex. “I think coming in, you really don't know what's going on. Everything's pretty fast and I think just having a year under the system working with coach Stout has really helped me out a lot. 

“Last year I kind of had the transition, it was kind of new to me. I think just spending that year at guard has given me a lot of experience there and just allowed me to adapt.”

With Jason Kelce absent for the first time since 2010, there will be a tremendous amount of scrutiny on the rebuilt Eagles’ offensive line, especially the interior, where there’ll be two new starters.

Cam Jurgens is locked into the center spot, but there are options at right guard, and Steen knows he's not guaranteed anything. 

Matt Hennessy was taking reps with the second team at right guard Wednesday, and the former Don Bosco Prep and Temple player has started 22 games at left guard and center and would likely be the next man up if Steen doesn’t work out.

Jurgens isn’t Kelce, but Steen said it’s been great working next to the heir apparent.

“Cam does a really good job of just helping not only me, but everybody in the room,” Steen said. “He's really like taking a step up like a vet and he has a lot of knowledge. Really smart dude. So I think playing next to somebody like that is just gonna naturally make you a smarter, better player.”

We won’t know just how much Steen has improved until the pads come on this summer and he’s got to block Jordan Davis, Jalen Carter and Milton Williams at full speed.

But he said all the right things Wednesday and seems to be taking the offseason very seriously.

He knows exactly what's at stake. “Just focused on getting faster, stronger, just physically just being more prepared to play NFL football,” he said. “That's kind of like what my main focus was. Coming back as a better player than I came in before how I left.”

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