Rasul Douglas’ performance Thursday night was a roller coaster. Fortunately, one of the second-year cornerback’s best traits might be his ability to forget.
“You have to,” Douglas said after the Eagles’ 31-14 preseason loss to the Steelers. “You can’t sit there and think about it because no matter how you planned out the rest of the game, you’ll never recover.”
Douglas was beaten for a touchdown in the first quarter, responded with an interception in the second, then surrendered another six before the half concluded.
It was a game of highs and lows, but nobody outside the Eagles’ building will remember the in-between. The 23-year-old battled the entire contest, bounced back from his early miscue and looked solid otherwise.
“[Eagles defensive backs coach Corey Undlin] and the guys are good at making you forget,” Douglas said. “It’s not even you don’t want to. They make you forget. Next play, you’re back out there and it’s like, ‘Let’s go, man.’
“They give you confidence because you feel like, ‘OK, that play is over, behind me, behind us as a team, and let’s go out there and still play.’”
One play, in particular, Douglas needed to wipe from his memory was the 71-yard touchdown to Steelers wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster in the first quarter.
Douglas was seemingly in perfect position to knock down an underthrown pass down the left sideline, eyes on the football, running in lockstep with his man. Except the corner appeared to mistime his jump, instead of falling to the ground awkwardly as Smith-Schuster went up for the ball.
The receiver may have got away with a slight push, but Douglas knows it wasn’t the type of contact that would draw a penalty flag.
“It wasn’t like a big push where the ref would call it,” he said. “It was kind of one of those, ‘Eh, we don’t see it.’
“That’s a good play by a receiver. That’s what receivers are taught. Get that little nub at the end and the ref won’t call it.”
Douglas was bested again for six points late in the second half, though on a spectacular catch by Steelers wideout Damoun Patterson. The pass sailed just over the defender’s outstretched fingertips and into Patterson’s hands as he completed a spinning grab in the back of the end zone.
Again, the coverage wasn’t poor in this case. Douglas was in decent position but was playing with outside leverage, expecting safety help in the middle of the field.
“When I come to the sideline, I looked at Corey,” Douglas said. “He told to me what he saw, I tell him what I thought I saw and we handle it right then and there.”
It wasn’t all bad for the Eagles’ third-round draft pick in 2017. Douglas even appeared to redeem himself earlier in the second quarter, intercepting Steelers quarterback Joshua Dobbs.
Douglas was in zone coverage and read the quarterback perfectly, undercutting a corner route intended for Patterson down the left sideline. Still, Douglas was far from happy with the end result after the game.
“Unless I had three picks, I didn’t do anything,” Douglas. “That’s how I always roll. I always tell myself every game I’m going to try to get three interceptions. If I don’t get it, I didn’t play good enough. Especially because we lost, that definitely means I didn’t play good enough.”
One way of looking at Douglas’ performance is, he recorded an interception and surrendered two touchdowns. Another way of looking at it is he was only inches away from achieving his goal of three turnovers.
If he had, he probably would’ve forgotten anyway. After all, Douglas has a short memory.