Eagles

DeVonta Smith all business as NFL debut nears

Eagles

DeVonta Smith is a 22-year-old first-round draft pick who has waited nearly his entire life to make it to the NFL.

But it shouldn’t surprise you that he’s preparing for his professional debut with the same workmanlike attitude that got him here.

“Well, I gotta get through practice first,” Smith said on Monday afternoon, “so I really don’t try to think about the game until I get there.”

Yup, just a few days before fulfilling a lifelong dream of playing in the NFL, Smith doesn’t even want to entertain thoughts of what that moment will be like. Because there are important moments before it. There’s practice on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Three more chances to get better.

When the Eagles face the Falcons at Mercedes Benz Stadium on Sunday, it’ll be Smith’s second trip to the venue in a week. He was there on Saturday afternoon as an honorary captain to watch his alma mater Alabama beat Miami 44-13 in the Kickoff Classic. (It’s also where he caught the game-winning touchdown catch as a freshman in the National Championship Game.)

Smith said it was good to see his former teammates this past weekend and when any of them asked him about life in the NFL, his answer was as truthful as it was unsurprising.

“It’s a business,” Smith told them. “You have to carry yourself the right way.”

Smith played just 26 snaps during the preseason and all of them came in the second game. He had two catches for 19 yards. He also missed a significant portion of training camp with a knee sprain.

 

Despite all that, there are obviously high expectations for the No. 10 pick in Philadelphia. The Eagles have had some swings and misses going after receivers in the draft, but Smith won the Heisman Trophy for a reason.

And his slim stature aside, Smith seems like a sure thing. He’s a tremendous route runner, he’s fast, he has great hands. There’s an awful lot to like about him. And because of that, those expectations are sky high.

But when asked about them, Smith just emphasizes controlling what he can.

“Just play my role,” Smith said. “Coach (Nick) Sirianni just had a meeting; it was all about people playing a role. So whatever my role is, embrace it and that’s my role.”

Smith took Sirianni’s message to heart on Monday.

It was a fitting day for the first-round pick to speak to reporters.

“We just talked today about embracing our role on the team,” Sirianni said. “What is your role? Embrace your role and DeVonta is going to have a big role on this team.”

That big role starts on Sunday with his debut. Just don’t ask the rookie about it until then.

He has practice tomorrow.

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