Eagles guard Isaac Seumalo has surely experienced his share of ups and downs during his three seasons since being selected in the third round in 2016 out of Oregon State. Last year he was benched after having a rough outing against the Kansas City Chiefs in the second game and didn’t regain his starting spot until the fifth game of this season.
Then after starting nine games, he suffered a pectoral muscle injury in the Eagles 29-23 overtime loss in Dallas on Dec. 9.
Seumalo missed the final three regular season games but replaced Stefen Wisniewski at left guard and appeared in all 68 offensive plays during Sunday’s 16-15 wild-card win over the host Chicago Bears.
“It felt good, man,” Seumalo said earlier this week as the Eagles prepared for Sunday’s divisional game against the host New Orleans Saints. “I was happy about it and most importantly we got the win.”
Seumalo received a passing grade from offensive coordinator Mike Groh.
“For missing the time he did, he really good a nice job, under the circumstances,” Groh said. “They have got a really good defensive line and Isaac stepped up and played well.”
The 6-foot-4, 303-pound Seumalo made four starts as a rookie in 2016 and just two last season, although he appeared in 14 regular season games and in all three playoff games. In the postseason he appeared in 23 percent of the offensive snaps for the Super Bowl champs.
Last year Seumalo lost his starting job after a difficult performance during a 27-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He was replaced by Chance Warmack and eventually Wisniewski earned the job, starting seven regular season games and the three postseason contests.
In that Kansas City game, Seumalo struggled with Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones, who recorded three sacks.
“Isaac got a bad rap from that Kansas City game,” Eagles center Jason Kelce said. “He ended up playing against one of the better defensive linemen in the NFL and at the time we didn’t know that.”
Jones had 6.5 sacks last season, but 15.5 this season, proving Kelce’s point.
This season, Wisniewski started the first four games before Seumalo got his chance, only to be sidelined by the injury.
“Luckily it wasn’t the tendon, it was a tear in the muscle and it is feeling a lot better,” Seumalo said.
Seumalo and the entire offensive line fared well against the top scoring defense in the NFL. Quarterback Nick Foles was sacked just once for eight yards.
It was a relief, according to Seumalo, to return to action.
“I was itching to get back out there and you never want to to be hurt, it (stinks) and I was glad to play in the game and play well and get through without any re-injury or anything,” he said.
Kelce agreed with Seumalo’s assessment of his play.
“Sometimes when you have a new guy in the lineup he might struggle, but Isaac didn’t miss that much time to begin with and he was ready to go,” Kelce said.
Seumalo has great physical strength and he is also versatile, having started 12 regular season games (plus the one playoff game) at left guard, two at right guard and one at right tackle.
He also needed mental toughness to bounce back from last season and regain his spot in the starting lineup.