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Versatile Nate Herbig Keeps Producing When Eagles Need Him

The backup interior offensive lineman is often an afterthought until he's needed

PHILADELPHIA – Jack Driscoll was back at right guard during practice on Wednesday, three days after leaving Sunday’s 44-6 blowout win at Detroit with a hand injury.

The second-year offensive lineman, who is a favorite of head coach Nick Sirianni, was forced to leave after only five snaps.

No one is as well-versed at making due on the offensive front than the Eagles, however, and Jeff Stoutland simply pulled the next lever on his never-ending supply of competent options.

Nate Herbig, the third-year player out of Stanford, was inserted and the Philadelphia O-Line didn’t miss a beat.

In fact, Philadelphia had one of the best run-clocking games in recent memory, one which star right tackle Lane Johnson said on Wednesday was, “one of the best run games we've had since I've been here."

Originally an undrafted free agent in 2019, Herbig provided yeoman work in 2020 when Brandon Brooks missed the entire season at right guard and Isaac Seumalo missed about half the season at LG.

Pressed into action for a significant portion of the campaign, Herbig went from playing three offensive snaps as a rookie to 891 as a second-year player, 79 percent of the team’s total.

The results were hardly poor with ProFootballFocus.com grading the unheralded Herbig as No. 13 of the 80 offensive guards who played enough to be ranked.

The plan in 2021 was to get back to Brooks and Seumalo, along with All-Pro center Jason Kelce, on the interior and Hebig settling in as the game-day backup for all three positions.

Brooks, however, suffered a pec injury and has been out since Week 2 while Seumalo suffered a season-ending foot injury against Dallas in Week 3.

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Stoutland's depth, though, increased with 2021 second-round pick Landon Dickerson and Driscoll, a fourth-round pick in 2020 who played right tackle in college at Auburn but has amped up the cross-training and started to excel at RG.

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In many ways, Herbig was the forgotten man, at least until he’s needed like last week in Detroit.

Herbig’s teammates, though, know what they have.

“It’s really impressive, especially when you consider he’s not just working on one position,” Kelce said. “Nate’s the backup guard on either side and the backup center.

"As a matter of fact, most of the snaps he gets each week are at center so for him to go in at guard and perform as well as he has this year when we’ve asked him is a testament to who he is and how he prepares.”

Johnson offered a similar sentiment.

"He's done well,” Johnson said. “Every time he comes in and plays, he plays well. We spend a lot of time here in the offseason together so Jack got hurt early in the game, so it wasn't too long. 

"We did get some good things and ran the ball well but yeah, every time Nate's called up, he plays well. Center, guard and he's one of the Bros around here."

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This season, PFF has Herbig graded as No. 25 of 74 eligible OGs despite being the fifth option on his own team.

“Herby is a great teammate, great player,” said Kelce. “He always been able to go out there and get the job done regardless of who he’s playing or what we need him to do. … He makes the best of what’s going on and that’s a hard one.

“When you find guys like that, they have real value. Before him, Big V [Halapoulivaati Vaitai] was a guy that had to do that. Before him, Isaac Seumalu did freakin’ everything, positions across the board, and now both those guys are starters.”

-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 jmcmullen44@gmail.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.