Rasul Douglas knows which photo I’m talking about as soon as I bring it up. At this point, it seems like everyone knows about the photo.
The Eagles’ cornerback posted it to his Instagram story about week ago.
In it, he shows his body transformation over a two-month span. It’s not that the before photos show an out-of-shape guy; they don’t. That’s the body that has powered Douglas to 12 starts and five interceptions in his first two NFL seasons.
It’s that the after photos show him completely cut up. His abs have abs. His back is a mountain range of muscle.
A lot of work went into that body transformation.
“A lot,” Douglas said on Tuesday, before playing it cool. “Just offseason training, eating good for the first time. Just lost some weight.”
It shows a dedication to his craft. It shows that he isn’t resting on the somewhat modest level of success he’s had during his first two years in the NFL. He wants to keep getting better and he hasn’t yet reached his ceiling.
The Eagles have a surplus of talented cornerbacks right now and no one really knows how this will all shake out when games start in September. But I think one thing should be clear:
Douglas has earned a legitimate shot to win a starting job in 2019.
“I’m excited to compete,” Douglas said. “That’s what we do. It doesn’t matter who the guy is, we just want to compete.”
Before OTAs, Douglas spent the last couple months working out in Florida, while completely overhauling his diet. He cut out fatty foods and and ate better all the time. A typical meal these days would be a chicken breast, some rice and asparagus.
You’ll likely remember Douglas’ backstory. When he was playing football at Nassau Community College, he struggled so much financially that he would order dollar-menu items from McDonald’s for lunch and save half for dinner. It got him through tough times, but that’s no way to treat a high-powered machine playing NFL football. This offseason, he’s become increasingly serious about treating his body right.
“I think it’s like the first time I actually stuck to it for a long period of time,” Douglas said.
After being taken in the third round in 2017, Douglas has played quite a bit for the Eagles in his first two seasons and every time they’ve called on him, he’s performed well. In 2017, he started five games. In 2018, he started seven.
• Overall, Douglas has played 30 games with 12 starts
• He has five interceptions in his first two seasons. He led the Eagles with three in 2018
• Just five members of the 2017 draft class have more interceptions
• Douglas has more interceptions than 22 of the 27 defensive backs drafted before him in 2017, including five first-rounders
His game action has come in much different ways. In 2017, he was a place-holder for Ronald Darby as Darby recovered from a dislocated ankle. He knew his starting job wasn’t going to last forever. In 2018, after a “low-key frustrating” beginning of the season, Douglas was a starter for the second half of the year thanks to injuries to Darby and Jalen Mills. His first start didn’t come until Nov. 11; he had played just 93 defensive snaps before then, including six games with three or fewer snaps.
This spring, as Darby and Mills are still recovering, Douglas has been working as a starter during OTAs. We’ll have to see what happens when those guys come back, but defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz mentioned Douglas by name when asked for players who have impressed him so far.
“Over the last couple years, even though he wasn't a starter,” Schwartz said, “he probably has a year of starting experience under his belt and you're starting to see that when he goes out.”
Douglas agreed that when other people are noticing all the hard work he’s put in, it validates what he’s been doing.
When I ask him if he thinks he’s done enough to warrant consideration for a starting job, he cuts me off after the word “enough.” He emphatically states he hasn’t done enough overall.
As far as the starting gig?
“Who knows? I’m not in their (coaches') head,” Douglas said. “All I can control is what I can control.”
It seems like he’s certainly doing that.
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