Before spring practice in late March, it was decided by the coaching staff to move Pat Eger to center. Eger, who had started 17 games at right tackle and one at right guard throughout his career, made the move to replace four-year starter Joe Madsen.
Unfortunately for Eger, he re-injured a surgically repaired ankle in early April and missed the rest of spring camp. During this time, he lost reps while others were gaining them. When the depth chart was announced last week at the beginning of summer camp, Tyler Orlosky was the starting center. Eger had slid over to the left and is currently the second-team left guard behind Marquis Lucas.
As a player who played on the outside of the line most of his career, there are several differences for Eger playing on the interior of the line.
"At tackle, there was a lot more room for error, especially in the pass game," Eger said. "The technique is different of course, but when it comes down to it, it's all about pad level, moving your feet and having great hand position."
While Eger is listed as a left guard now, he can still move to other positions on the line in case of injury. Currently, Tyler Orlosky, Tony Matteo and Stone Underwood are getting the snaps at center, but Eger would be fourth in line. Before the ankle injury, Eger had to work on snapping the ball since he had never played center before.
"It's something that did not come naturally to me," said Eger. "The first two and a half weeks of spring ball before we went on spring break, I had a snap here, I had a snap there, it would roll back five yards and I don't think I even got it off the ground. Joey Madsen came back the one week and me and him spent a couple hours each day [practicing]. I don't know how he did it, but it was night and day."
Even though he is one of the few offensive linemen returning with game experience, Eger finds himself needing to prove to the coaching staff that he still deserves a starting role on this team.
"I wouldn't have felt right if [the coaches] gave me a spot," Eger said. "That goes back to how I was raised. You have to prove yourself everyday, so I'm happy to be wherever I can be and I'm going to work my butt off to achieve the goals that I want to."
Through the rehab process during the summer, Eger caught the eye of offensive line coach Ron Crook and he was impressed with how Eger responded.
"He and I have talked a lot about it," Crook said. "He expects to be a starter on this team and he's going to get that opportunity to go out and earn a starting spot. He's working really hard right now and we're very pleased with what we've seen out of him. I expect him to be on the field and playing for us a lot.
"If he's not out there on the first play of the game then he'll be in there shortly there after."
Crook was adamant in letting everyone know that none of the positions are set in stone, especially this early in camp. Most players will move around from position to position. For Eger, this means he will have many opportunities to prove himself, regardless of what position.