Shelton Gibson

How simply navigating locker room can be a difficult task for some Eagles

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Tom Finer | NBC Sports Philadelphia

How simply navigating locker room can be a difficult task for some Eagles

As soon as a towel-clad Jaylen Watkins walked out of the showers and into the Eagles' locker room Thursday afternoon, his shoulders slumped and he let out a near-silent sigh. 

He approached the horde of reporters near his locker stall before he locked eyes with one who was standing directly in his space. The two chuckled as they awkwardly sidestepped each other to swap positions. 

The media contingent that covers the Eagles is one of — if not the — biggest in the entire league. That's great news for fans, who have plenty of options. 

It's not great news for Watkins, who just wants to get changed. 

Watkins' locker is positioned just to the left of team leader Malcolm Jenkins'. Jenkins holds court with reporters a couple times per week, which can be a slight inconvenience for Watkins and Patrick Robinson, who also shares a wall with him.

And Watkins knows whenever there's a political story in the news, reporters are going to want to talk to his outspoken teammate. 

"I guess that's what comes being next to Malcolm," Watkins said. "You get good insight on stuff, but you also have to deal with the baggage that comes with him." 

NFL locker rooms are weird places and it's not because of the nakedness. After all, locker rooms are meant for changing. But trying to change while a group of media members slowly infringes upon your personal space makes it a little strange. 

But for three 45-minute windows each week, reporters fill the room. On any given Wednesday or Thursday during the week at the NovaCare Complex, there can be as many as 30 to 40 media members in attendance. It's just a part of the deal in Philadelphia.

For Shelton Gibson, this is all new. 

The rookie receiver said reporters weren't allowed in the West Virginia locker room. They met with players in a different space.

Being placed next to Torrey Smith has been a great thing for Gibson and the two have become close. But Smith is one of those guys who draws a crowd. 

"It's funny," Gibson said. "Last week I was looking at it. It's just like, you can't interrupt. You're not hoping that he'll hurry up or anything. It's just funny because [it's just a] big ass [crowd] around your locker." 

While Watkins normally stands behind the media scrum, waiting for his moment to pounce, Gibson has taken a different approach. While waiting for the crowd to disperse, he takes walks. He'll find a teammate in another part of the locker room to visit. Sometimes, though, he will hang around as Smith gets interviewed. He wants to see how the veteran handles it all and he always comes away impressed. 

In the middle of the locker room, on the right side, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham are neighbors. Two of the best defensive players on the team, they are both pretty popular interview subjects.

So just about every week, one of them will walk out of the showers and see a seemingly impenetrable wall of camera and recorder-holders in their way. As veterans, though, they're beyond patiently waiting. 

"It's cool, man, because I just tell everybody to move out the way," said Graham, one of the more jovial players on the team. "That's all. That's my cue to have a little fun with the reporters." 

Watkins has dealt with this long before he was placed next to Jenkins. In fact, during his first training camp in 2014, he was in a popup stall in the middle of the floor. The locker on the wall nearest to him belonged to LeSean McCoy. It used to be annoying, especially when he didn't have a good day of practice, but there's not much he can do about it. 

After practices, the coaching staff will tell the players if that day is a media day. When Watkins knows it is, he hurries into the locker room as fast as he can and if he's lucky, he gets out before Jenkins gets in. 

But sometimes it backfires. Sometimes when Watkins goes to the cold tub and for treatment, he'll get back in the room at the same exact time Jenkins is about to start answering questions. 

And then the waiting begins. 

"So I just kind of stand by the side and let it happen," Watkins said with a shrug. "I'm used to it now."

Eagles Inactives: 4 draft picks to sit out season opener vs. Redskins

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AP Images

Eagles Inactives: 4 draft picks to sit out season opener vs. Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. — The Eagles have four draft picks on their inactive list for the season opener. 

Rasul Douglas, Donnel Pumphrey, Shelton Gibson, Elijah Qualls, Chance Warmack, Dexter McDougle and Steven Means are all inactive for Sunday's game against Washington. 

The Eagles were completely healthy heading into Sunday's matchup in Washington. Every player on the 53-man roster practiced in full all week. 

Pumphrey expected to be inactive. After a terrible preseason where he averaged just 1.9 yards per rushing attempt, Pumphrey made the 53-man roster but said during the practice week that he would be inactive. He was right.

With Pumphrey, Gibson, Douglas and Qualls inactive, four of the Eagles' eight draft picks are on the inactive list Sunday. (Sidney Jones is on NFI and Nate Gerry is on the practice squad.) The only active draft picks are Derek Barnett and Mack Hollins. 

Undrafted rookie running back Corey Clement is active. 

McDougle might eventually have a role on the Eagles' defense, but for now, he's still the newcomer after the Eagles traded for him in late August. 

The Eagles kept just seven of their eight offensive linemen active, which makes Warmack the odd man out. Their backup offensive linemen are Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Stefen Wisniewski. 

The Eagles technically have just three cornerbacks active: Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby and Patrick Robinson. But Jaylen Watkins, while technically listed as a safety, has been playing corner and Corey Graham can play corner as well. 

Washington's inactives: Mack Brown, Joshua Holsey, Tyler Catalina, TJ Clemmings, Anthony Lanier, Jeremy Sprinkle and Josh Harvey-Clemons.

Howie Roseman finalizes Eagles' roster for now and the future

Howie Roseman finalizes Eagles' roster for now and the future

Howie Roseman said he built the Eagles' roster with an eye not just on today, but also on tomorrow. The 53 best players not just for the short term, but for the long term.

And that means keeping guys like Marcus Johnson, Donnel Pumphrey and Elijah Qualls, who might not play this year but could one day be impact players.

“We’re not trying to sacrifice the roster as it goes into Washington (for opening day)," Roseman said Saturday. "We’re trying to compete and win as many games as we possibly can.

"But we also don’t want to be short-sighted about losing guys that we think down the (line) could become starters. Guys who look like they have traits to become a starter and have a high ceiling, we’re going to try to invest in those guys and be more patient with them."

This is a departure for the Eagles and Roseman, who in past years has simply kept the players he feels are most ready to play now.

That has meant cutting ties with promising young players like Eric Rowe, Jordan Poyer, Alejandro Villanueva and even Jaylen Watkins, who's back now but was released before his second season.

“I think that when I was (general manager) in ’13 and ’14 and we’re winning 10 games, you’re sitting there and you’re going, 'Hey, let’s try to win a playoff game, let’s try to get over the hump," Roseman said.

"And now we’ve got a 24-year-old quarterback, and that doesn’t mean we don’t want to win right now, because we do. But we also want to build this the right way. Some of that means doing some things (to trust) in our development system."

For example?

Johnson, a second-year pro who earned his way onto the 53-man roster but as the sixth receiver, probably won't even be active this year unless there are injuries.

But considering that Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith could both be gone next year, keeping Johnson under contract is significant.

"I think Marcus Johnson is a huge plus for us," Roseman said. "You look at a guy like that — who came back after a year and took a big step and looks like (he has) traits to be a starter — and what our coaches and conditioning staff and trainers did with a guy like that and you say, ‘Hey, you worked with these guys, what’s their ceiling? What can it be?’

"And we’re trying to be more developmental, certainly on the guys who aren’t on the 46 than we have been maybe in the past."

Roseman emphasized that the 46 guys who will dress on game day need to be the 46 best players the Eagles can get their hands on.

But there are 17 other spots available that the Eagles control — the seven guys who don't dress out on game day and 10 players on the practice squad.

That's the part of the roster Roseman kept in mind when the Eagles made final cuts Saturday.

"I think it's important for us when we make these decisions, we're talking about the 46, the 53 and then the 63," he said. "We want to make sure our coaches have the best 46 guys that they need to go into Washington. And then from there, there are also guys that we want to develop, that we want to sit there a year from now and hope that they have taken another step."

Pumphrey, who made the team despite struggling throughout the preseason, also fits into that category, as does wide receiver Shelton Gibson, who made the team despite having trouble catching the ball during most of camp.

"We knew that if Shelton went back to school and didn't come out early, he's probably drafted higher and that we were going to have to spend time to develop him and his skill set," Roseman said.

"And he does have a (unique) trait. He had more 50-yard receptions than anyone in college football last year. He can take the top off.

"Consistency for a rookie is, obviously, something that sometimes takes some time. But he works really hard. He has the traits we're looking for to develop into a player."

Nothing worse than seeing a guy who started out with the Eagles but never really got a chance enjoying success with another team.

The site of Rowe celebrating a Super Bowl championship with the Patriots a few months after the Eagles gave up on him — and continued to struggle at cornerback — certainly resonated with a lot of Eagles fans.

"We don't want to lose a guy that, a year from now or two years from now we think has starter traits," Roseman said. "We feel good about having a plan to develop these guys.

"When we make the decision to pick them, we have conversations like, ‘Hey, this guy may not be ready Day 1, this guy may need some time, here are the things he may need to work on.’

"We try to balance that. But we are also going to make a concerted effort to try to develop them and spend the time not just reading off cards on scout team, but really spending time with them and developing the person and the player and try to help them on some of the deficiencies that maybe they have."