Expectations from the outside may have been bigger for Michael Bamiro last offseason than realistic hopes from within.
Bamiro emerged into a catchy name last summer when the Eagles won a bidding war to sign the 6-foot-8, 338-pound former Stony Brook offensive lineman, guaranteeing almost $250,000 of his three-year contract.
Nearly one-quarter million for a prospect who played just three seasons at Stony Brook, which isn’t exactly a football powerhouse, seemed like a reach. But the Eagles were investing in Bamiro’s future, which is why they scrambled quickly to re-sign him to the practice squad after releasing him before the final roster cutdown date.
Bamiro believes he is much more equipped to compete for a roster spot this time after spending a grueling developmental year under offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.
“It was tough,” Bamiro said during a recent OTA. “It was real tough. I had to learn a lot on the fly and it didn’t come as easily to me as I thought it would, and that’s all on me as well. I should have put a lot more effort in than I did. I thought I put in a lot of effort, but it takes a whole other mind frame to get used to the speed of the game, understand the plays and how fast things are going to be moving.”
You can excuse Bamiro if culture shock held him back from realizing his full potential in his first season.
Last offseason, he was preparing to return to Stony Brook for his fourth and final season until he learned from the NCAA that his eligibility had expired. He played only three seasons after redshirting in 2009, but Bamiro had first spent one year as a student -- not an athlete -- at a University of Pittsburgh satellite campus in Titusville, Pa.
Even though Pitt-Titusville doesn’t have a football team, the NCAA counted that year against Bamiro’s eligibility. Bamiro lost an appeal in July, months after the NFL draft. Because he wasn’t an underclassman, he also wasn’t eligible for the supplemental draft.
So instead of gearing up for another season of dorm life in Long Island, Bamiro became the first known college prospect to dodge both the NFL and supplemental drafts. Instead of doing what college seniors do, Bamiro’s focus shifted suddenly to preparing for an NFL career.
Looking back on his first year with the Eagles, Bamiro can admit that he wasn’t mentally ready, even as a practice squad member.
“I knew that there were situations that you don’t think would come up, but it would come up and then you focus on one thing and not focus on the thing that you thought you were really good at, and that would come up again,” he said.
Although he has an ideal body size for tackle, Bamiro started taking reps at guard last year to prepare for a full-time move. In OTAs this spring, Bamiro has worked mainly at right guard on the second-team, which is where he expects to stay for at least this season.
The Eagles aren’t overly deep on the interior offensive line, but they just signed veteran swing backup Allen Barbre to a three-year extension and have second-year pro Matt Tobin, another swing lineman, anchoring second-team left tackle.
Bamiro has to prove he’s polished enough this year to hold down a spot on the 53-man roster. That time will come at training camp.
“He’s made a lot of great strides,” center Jason Kelce said. “He’s head and shoulders way better than where he was at this point last year. It takes seeing how he moves when the pads and everything come on. But physically, he’s got all the physical ability in the world. He’s trying to make sure he understands the game, understands the angles, techniques and all that stuff.”
Bamiro played in a three-point stance at tackle for run-heavy Stony Brook, so the transition to guard isn’t completely foreign. The biggest difference from tackle to guard is the higher speed and pace of action on the inside compared to the island at tackle.
“if you notice, the speed inside at guard is a whole lot faster than playing outside,” Bamiro said. “Every move is so much quicker, especially where the ball is going to be. The ball is always gonna be right around where you’re going to be on the play. So playing there all last year is going to help me out a ton.”