PHILADELPHIA - Nate Herbig understands what's waiting for him Sunday at MetLife Stadium when the third-year pro is expected to start at right guard for the Philadelphia Eagles.
To the layman, that might seem like New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, the 2019 No. 3 overall pick out of Alabama who has developed into perhaps the Jets' best defensive player, but Herbig has now played enough over the past two seasons to realize something bigger than Williams looms in the form of the standard of the Eagles' offensive line.
The group as a whole has spearheaded a rushing attack that is No. 1 in the NFL at 157.9 yards per game and helped produce four different 200-yard rushing performances over the past five games despite a host of injuries.
"There's a high standard," Herbig admitted Friday after practice, "and if you're not on it, you're gonna get it. [Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland] is gonna point it out."
Herbig, typically the Eagles' top interior backup in recent weeks, was forced into action at two different positions in a 13-7 loss to the New York Giants last week.
First, the Stanford product filled in for center Jason Kelce, who banged up his knee to the point the veteran couldn't get his quad firing, and then moved to RG when Kelce returned before Jack Driscoll went down with what turned out to be a season-ending ankle injury.
When it was all said and done Herbig ended up playing 52 of the game's 67 offensive snaps (78 percent).
"I mean I kind of do it at practice already but it's just two different positions so it's different mindsets," Herbig said of playing two spots in one game. "I feel like I just tried to put myself in the best situation to help the team win, do my job and execute it whether it was at center or guard."
Week 1, the Eagles' offensive line from left to right was Jordan Mailata, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, and Lane Johnson.
Since then, the musical chairs have been wild resulting in two left tackles (Mailata and Andre Dillard), three LGs (Seumalo, Herbig, and Landon Dickerson), two OCs (Kelce and Herbig), four RGs (Brooks, Dickerson, Driscoll, and now Herbig) and three RTs (Johnson, Mailata, and Driscoll).
Yet, through it all the Eagles have had arguably the best offensive line in the NFL.
"I think it's a credit to Kelce, Lane, Brook, and Isaac. Stout. Just the standard that has been set since I got to the Eagles," Herbig said when asked to explain the unit's ability to handle adversity. "You don't know when your number is gonna get called but you better be ready because we all count on each other."
For once, Herbig knows his number is going to be called, however, and that's an advantage.
"I think I can just focus more on just one spot and really like lock in and try and detail as [much as] possible," he said.
And now it's time to join in on the fun.
"When you look up at the big screen and watch the replay and just see Jordan just maul somebody or Kelce blocking two guys down the field or just being out there and you feel Lane just blow this guy up or Landon drive the guy down the field. It's just like, 'oh my goodness, I want to do that too,'" Herbig smiled. "Like, I want to get it on the fun."
Herbig will get that opportunity against the Jets but if he doesn't reach "the standard," a Tesla stock named Sua Opeta waits in the wings.
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.