Rasul Douglas spent most of his Thursday night watching the Eagles’ defense and cheering on his teammates.
Until the Eagles needed him.
That happened in the fourth quarter against Atlanta. It was a one-score game and the Falcons were in the red zone when Ronald Darby came out of the game for two plays — the only two defensive snaps Douglas got all night.
On third down, veteran Matt Ryan decided to try the cold cornerback. A blitz forced a quicker throw than Ryan would have liked and Douglas cut off the route, intercepted the pass and got his feet in bounds.
Then he went and sat back on the bench again.
Aside from saying Douglas has a nose for the ball, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz wasn’t about to heap tons of praise on the second-year corner just for intercepting a huge pass at a pivotal moment of a huge game.
“That was his job,” Schwartz said.
This is what the Eagles expect from their corners. They expect it from their starters. And they expect it from their backups, including Douglas, who started five games as a rookie last season.
But with Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills cemented as starters and with Sidney Jones now healthy, Douglas is a backup again in a group that is all of a sudden incredibly deep.
“We’re loaded,” Douglas said. “We’ve got guys that could start around the league. We know that in our room. That’s what’s so tough about our room. You can’t come in here and have a bad day or you can’t have a bad practice. Guys will get on you and there are guys who will make plays.
“The intensity is already so high. You gotta bring this to the table and if you don’t, you’re a cancer to our room, and if you’re a cancer to our room, you’re a cancer to our team.”
The Eagles’ defensive back room, led by coach Cory Undlin, is as competitive as it is deep. Douglas explained that they’re not just competitive with football; it’s everything. He said if he walked up to Jones or rookie Avonte Maddox and challenged them to a game of rock-paper-scissors, it would get intense. He then peeked around the corner and looked disappointed that neither player was at their respective locker stalls.
In addition to his two defensive snaps, Douglas said the 10 special teams snaps he got helped to keep him loose during the game. That’s a key. So is staying mentally involved in the game. He’s not playing, but it’s not hard for him to keep his focus.
“What else are you watching?” he said.
Douglas knows the Eagles could call for him to step back on the field at any given moment. He’ll be ready when they do.