Eagles' incumbent corners welcome Ronald Darby, increased competition

Eagles' incumbent corners welcome Ronald Darby, increased competition

"Bring it on!"

That's the message from Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas, the two young Eagles cornerbacks who potentially stand to lose the most playing time with the acquisition of Ronald Darby.

Mills is a 2016 seventh-round pick out of LSU, Douglas is a rookie third-round pick from West Virginia.

"Let’s compete, you know?" Mills said. "Regardless of whatever they brought him in for, it’s a great addition to the room. I know him, I know his game from when he was at Florida State. I actually thought he’d be a first-round pick. He’s a great player, I love the move."

Mills and veteran Patrick Robinson have been the de facto starters throughout camp, but Robinson has been inconsistent and isn't even guaranteed a roster spot.

Rookie second-round pick Sidney Jones won't play for most or all of the season because of an Achilles injury.

Darby, a two-year starter with the Bills, was brought here to start, although everything beyond that is unknown.

“Man, it’s just focus on the task at hand," said Mills, whose 662 snaps were second-most among Eagles corners last year. "When I’m out there, make my plays and let those guys decide.

"As far as my approach, it’s not going to change. You can only control what you can control. When I’m out there, when my number is called, make my plays.

“As far as upstairs goes? I’m still trying to learn how that process works, but I know Darby is a great player, a great corner, had a great first two years in Buffalo, so it was a great pickup for us.”

The Eagles have been unsettled at cornerback for nearly a decade. Since the franchise last won a playoff game in 2008, with Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown at corner, they've used an astonishing 20 different starting cornerbacks in eight seasons.

Including Roc Carmichael, E.J. Biggers, Brandon Hughes, Trevard Lindley and, yes, Eric Rowe.

That number will rise this year.

The plan is for Douglas and Jones to eventually be the long-term starters. Darby is only signed through next year.

But the Eagles clearly want to win now, and Darby gives them a dimension of experience none of the other young corners on the roster has.

Douglas, like Mills, said he sees the addition of Darby as nothing but a positive.

“That’s not up to me, whether we need a corner or we don’t," he said. "I’m a player. Everyone’s here to compete and try to play.

"Doesn’t matter if there’s another corner here or 10 more corners come in, football’s all about competition anyway, so you like that. The room gets better. When we’re all competing at a high level, it brings everybody up. It brings out the best out of everybody. Competition is good."

There are now 11 corners on the roster. Darby, Mills, Douglas, Robinson, Jones, former CFL Grey Cup winners Aaron Grymes and Mitchell White, incumbents Ron Brooks and C.J. Smith and camp long-shots Tay Glover-Wright and Jomal Wiltz.

Jones and Douglas are 21, Mills and Darby are 23 and Smith is 24. This is what Howie Roseman has been looking for at corner. Young talent instead of the same old tired retreads.

"We're all young, we're all learning, we're all competing," Douglas said. "We’re going to get better. … You have no choice but to get better. That’s what I like. I see it in myself that I’m getting better. Things I didn’t catch on in OTAs, I’m seeing it now. We’re going to get better, definitely.

“I don’t worry about playing time. I just try to get better every day. When my number is called, I’ll be ready.”

Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins has been here three years and has already played alongside nine starting cornerbacks, not including guys who’ve gotten first-team reps this year.

He said he likes the current philosophy of going young at corner and finally trying to build a secondary that can grow together.

"The biggest thing is just finding guys who can get as much experience as they can and get evaluated that we feel comfortable with that can go compete and don’t have to worry about somebody taking their jobs," Jenkins said.

"That’s the point of training camp. Get that evaluations, get those reps, and you just added that much more competition with this acquisition.

“Just from a feel standpoint, it’ll be good for us to kind of know who that starting four or five is and we can kind of work together making sure we see the game the same way, getting used to who you’re tandem with a lot.

"I think it’s important from a secondary jelling standpoint. That part is down the road. We’ll get there."

Brian Dawkins chooses longtime teammate for Hall of Fame intro

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Brian Dawkins chooses longtime teammate for Hall of Fame intro

Brian Dawkins has chosen longtime teammate and close friend Troy Vincent to introduce him this summer at Dawk's Hall of Fame induction.
Dawkins was selected in February for enshrinement in the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class.
"The presenter that will actually be on the stage will be Troy Vincent," Dawkins said in a video posted on the Pro Football Hall of Fame's website.
"My teammate in Philadelphia. We came there the same year. Almost from Day 1 he kind of ... not kind of, he took me under his wing on becoming a professional. Not just a football player but a professional. The details. The details that he went through, the particulars of how he played the position of cornerback was the same way he lived his life (and ran) his businesses that he had off the field.
"He's a guy I can call anytime. Any time of night. And tell him 100 percent all what's going on with me, and I know he's not going to judge me, and it's not going to leave his lips (for) anybody else.
"And the most important thing for me, being a man of faith, is that I know he's going to pray with me. So all those things combined are the reasons why Troy was the perfect guy to introduce me to the Hall of Fame."
Vincent, a native of Trenton and graduate of Pennsbury High in Fairless Hills, Bucks County, spent his first four seasons with the Dolphins before signing an offer sheet with the Eagles before the 1996 season that the Dolphins didn't match.
The Eagles drafted Dawkins in the second round a month after signing Vincent, and the two spent eight years together in the secondary, reaching the playoffs five times and the NFC Championship Game three times.
During those eight seasons, Vincent reached Pro Bowls and Dawkins made the first three of his nine Pro Bowls.
Vincent retired after the 2006 season and Dawkins after the 2011 season.
Dawkins, Vincent and Eric Allen are the only Eagles defensive backs picked to five or more Pro Bowls.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 enshrinement ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio.
Dawkins' former Eagles teammate, Terrell Owens, will also be inducted. He hasn't yet announced who will present him.
Dawkins will be the 21st former Eagle inducted into the Hall of Fame but only the ninth who spent the majority of his career with the Eagles.

Was Carson Wentz sending Nick Foles a message with Instagram video?

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Was Carson Wentz sending Nick Foles a message with Instagram video?

Offseason quarterback controversies are a rite of passage in the NFL. A time-honored tradition, really. 

We’ve certainly had our share in Philadelphia over the years. There were calls for Ron Jaworski to sit in favor of a young Randall Cunningham. Then cries for Jim McMahon to take Randall’s place. When Andy Reid drafted Kevin Kolb in 2007, that began a groundswell that he was the better choice than Donovan McNabb. Of course, most recently we had the Michael Vick/Nick Foles back and forth. To look back now, it seems silly these were even debates.

Most of the time, when you have these “controversies,” it generally means you have no quarterback on your roster. Not always. The 49ers in the late-80’s and early-90’s had Joe Montana and Steve Young, both Hall of Famers and all-time great quarterbacks. Both also won Super Bowls for San Francisco. But that is the exception. So is the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles’ situation.

I use the word “situation” and not “controversy.” Because there is no controversy. If Wentz is cleared by the Eagles’ medical staff, he starts Week 1. Period. What Foles did was incredible and will go down as one of the great — if not the greatest — stretch we have seen in Philadelphia sports history. He came up as big as you can. But Wentz he is not. That’s no disrespect to Foles. There are a handful of people on the planet who are in Wentz’s class.

Just a refresher course on what Wentz did in 13 games last season (his second in the NFL, by the way). He threw for 33 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 3,296 passing yards and had a 101.9 passer rating. The 33 TDs were the second-most in the NFL despite his missing the final three games. He also led his team to an 11-2 record before succumbing to that knee injury late into that Rams game that clinched the NFC East. He would have been the league MVP had he not gotten hurt.

There is a great luxury having Foles on this team. Wentz does not have to come back before he is able. If he’s not ready, you have the best backup in the league to start the season. But that’s the only scenario in which Foles plays Week 1. Simply put: Wentz is the better quarterback. And he has earned the right to start the opener if cleared. 

Some people read into Wentz's Instagram video of himself throwing earlier in the week as him somehow sending a message to Foles. I don’t buy it. I think Wentz’s message was to the fans and himself that I’ll be back, better than ever.

Wentz and Foles are both good teammates who put the team above themselves. Sure, Foles is a competitor and would likely prefer to start. But there won’t be any behind-the-scenes maneuvering to undercut Wentz. And Wentz is secure enough to be able to handle a Super Bowl MVP backing him up and all that goes along with that. Not to mention a coaching staff and organization that won’t allow outside noise to become a distraction.

Wentz over Foles. There’s no quarterback controversy.