If you expected Cre’Von LeBlanc to be bitter or angry or upset that the Eagles went out this offseason and brought in Nikell Robey-Coleman to play his position, you’d be wrong.
Instead, he’s busy coming up with elaborate handshakes with the guy.
LeBlanc for the last few years has led the Eagles’ defensive backs in inventing creative handshakes.
“Me and Robe got one called Gravedigger,” LeBlanc said. “Put ‘em in the grave!”
And then on a Zoom call he demonstrates the Gravedigger.
This is what we call friendly competition.
LeBlanc has battled injuries his two years with the Eagles, but he's played very good football down the stretch in both 2018 and 2019.
All that earned him was a demotion.
But LeBlanc takes the approach that the more good players the Eagles have, the better off everybody is.
“They’re now family,” he said of the new guys.
But the reality is you can only have one slot corner playing at a time, and everything points to Robey-Coleman getting the job.
“My mindset is just to control what I can control, focus on the task at hand, jelling with the guys, getting into the playbook a little more and … just jell with some of the new guys and new additions that came upon the team like Slay and Nickell and just build that chemistry,” he said after practice Sunday.
LeBlanc, 26, came here late in 2018 and missed most of last year with a foot injury, but when he’s been healthy he’s been terrific. It was LeBlanc whose interception on Drew Brees’ first pass really set the tone for the Eagles’ tremendous defensive effort in the 2018 playoff loss in New Orleans.
But with Darius Slay and Avonte Maddox settled outside, NRC in the slot and Will Parks moving all over the defense, it’s not easy to figure out LeBlanc’s role.
“I pretty much leave that up to the coaches and I put that in their hands," he said. "But as far as in my mind and what I’m here to do and focus on is what Cre’Von LeBlanc has to do and that’s pretty much attack the day and win the day and be on my A game. Make plays out there, fly around and continue to be the player that I have been.”
As for Robey-Coleman, he’s one of the NFL’s best slots and going into his eighth season.
Two good slots is better than one.
“From what I’ve seen, he has a phenomenal IQ,” LeBlanc said. “He’s been doing it for a very long time. He’s very quick laterally and he doesn’t shy away from competition. He’s a Florida (native), just like myself. That was a great addition, great pickup. … You’re getting a guy who’s on top of his A game, who knows football, who loves football, and I’m rocking with him.”
LeBlanc and Robey-Coleman are both signed only through the end of this year, as is much of the secondary – Sidney Jones, Will Parks, Rasul Douglas and Jalen Mills are all up after this year.
It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out, but for now, LeBlanc is happy just to work on his game.
And that means learning as much as possible from Robey-Coleman’s game.
“After practice, we work on things that sometimes I have problems with or it can be vice versa, some things he’s having problems with,” he said. “It’s each one teach one so after practice we work on it. Whether it’s press, whether it’s locating the ball, no matter what it is, we’re here for one another. Even though we’re competing, it’s all fun at the end of the day.”
You’ve got to love his attitude. Instead of worrying about how many snaps he’s going to get or how many opportunities he’s going to get or what his next contract is going to look like, LeBlanc is worried only about improving as a football player.
And inventing a lot more handshakes with his new teammates.