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Road to 53: Is DT Destiny Vaeao destined for a starting role this season

11 August 2018 Eagles News

With defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan out after having surgery on a herniated disk, the Eagles need a defensive tackle to step up. Right now, it seems like the third year man, Destiny Vaeao is that man.

Entering his third season, Vaeao has yet to register a start in the league. In 2016, he had two sacks and a forced fumble, but for the rest of his career has been disappointing. An early wrist injury caused him to miss some time last year after he endured a great training camp. Coming into this season there’s an opportunity to start and he’s ready to seize it. 

Here’s what defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said about the future of the defensive tackle position and Vaeao’s role in the upcoming season. 

“That will be decided in training camp and the preseason games,” Schwartz said. “I liked where he was coming out of training camp last year. Unfortunately, he got hurt in the first game, and then he had to play with that cast on the rest of the year. So, this is a big year for him, just sort of putting it all together. … He’s a little bit bigger now, but not overweight. He’s just bigger. He’s just matured a little bit more.”

So far this training camp, not only has Vaeao been getting the first team reps but he looks faster and stronger than in years past. Sometimes when you’re with a team for an extended period of time, eventually you adjust and develop. In year three, Vaeao seems to have really bought into the Eagles and is set to start this season. 

With all that being said, Vaeao will be next to Fletcher Cox on the line. His primary goal is to be the Eagles run stopper. He’s a bigger defensive tackle and he’s been giving the Eagles offensive line some problems. Commotion is what fuels this team and having a competitive culture allows guys like Vaeao to develop and get a chance to become a member of the starting team. 

Down the line, Vaeao isn’t going to beat out Jernigan for the starting spot once he’s healthy. However, with a defensive line that is rotated frequently, having a strong offseason and regular season sets Vaeao up to be a steady contributor to this team, much like former defensive tackle Beau Allen.

When opportunities like this arise, some guys take it and run. From what’s going on right now, that’s exactly what Vaeao is doing. He’s setting himself up to not only start while Jernigan’s absent, but also contribute for seasons to come.

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports