Lineman Reynolds getting his last shot

Eagles lineman Dallas Reynolds battles it out with teammate Frank Trotter during afternoon drills. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Eagles lineman Dallas Reynolds battles it out with teammate Frank Trotter during afternoon drills. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer

After three seasons on the Eagles' practice squad, he has to make the team now or else.

Posted: August 04, 2012

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - This summer is Dallas Reynolds' fourth chance, and his last chance.

Reynolds, 28, is trying to make the Eagles' 53-man roster as an offensive lineman. Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Brigham Young University, he spent the last three seasons on the team's practice squad - not a luxurious position, but one that at least extended his deadline for reaching his dream.

Now it's decision time, however. He either makes the Eagles or he leaves. Per NFL rules, a player can't remain on a team's practice squad for longer than three seasons.

Reynolds believes this training camp can be better than the last three, of course. He's a competitor, and he said you've got to believe you're as good as everybody else on the field - if not better. And for the last two days, he practiced at left guard with the first-team offense, leaning into a huddle with a quarterback who is scheduled to make $12.5 million this season and a receiver who earlier this year received a $10 million signing bonus.

But for Reynolds, the promotion is only temporary. He has stepped in for starter Evan Mathis, who has been sick with an inner-ear infection. More realistically, Reynolds is battling Julian Vandervelde for the backup- center gig, and a chance to stay on the 53-man roster.

So how can Reynolds be more realistic in camp this year than in the past? The answer, he said, is simple.

"All I can do is go in and work hard," he said after practice Friday.

"I've worked hard in the offseason," he said again.

"The most important thing I've learned is to continue to try and get better, continue to work hard," he said a third time.

Will that be enough? Reynolds hopes. He said that over the last three years he has had to get into better shape and, more important, refine his technique. He has to be quicker than he used to be. His hand placement must be more precise, his footwork more disciplined.

As opposed to former offensive line coach Juan Castillo, Reynolds said, Howard Mudd demands his linemen be more aggressive. Reynolds needs to be the master of his own hands and feet, because then he can focus more on his assignment on each play. If he doesn't, if he's more busy making sure his hands shoot to the inside of an opponent than reacting to how the defense is aligned, Reynolds said, he'll get beat every time. And he can't get beat, almost ever. This camp, there is no room for error.

Reynolds added that he must know both guard positions - like the one he has played while filling in for Mathis - as well as he knows center. If he can play all three positions, he's more valuable to the team.

Either way, Reynolds' long-term future could be determined in the next month as player after player gets cut. And for a person in the position of Reynolds, who is married with a daughter, the thought of what is at stake this month could make you queasy.

So, how does he handle the pressure?

"I'm not going to worry about all that other stuff," he said Friday.

"I try not to think about all that stuff," he said when asked again.

"You don't try to think about it," he said a third time.

A third time. That wasn't the charm for Reynolds last season. But maybe the fourth camp will be the charm. For him, it better be, or there might not be a fifth.

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