The perfect gameplan for Rasul Douglas’ rookie season was to let him slowly develop behind more seasoned vets in the Eagles' defensive backfield, but that didn’t happen. Instead, Douglas was thrown into the NFL fire early and often.
When Ronald Darby dislocated his right ankle in the season opener in Washington, Douglas was the next man up. The third-round pick out of West Virginia played 39 of the Eagles' 53 defensive snaps against Kansas City the following week. That was an early omen as Douglas would average 42 snaps over his first eight professional games.
For the most part, Douglas held his own and made plays in between the typical rookie mistakes here and there, but he earned the praise of his defensive backs coach, Cory Undlin. But after playing 37 snaps in a Week 9 romp over Denver, all of a sudden Douglas disappeared from the cornerback rotation. The snap counts over his next six games after the win over the Broncos: zero vs. Dallas, 11 vs. Chicago, one vs. Seattle, zero vs. Los Angeles, inactive vs. New York and four against Oakland.
Douglas won't fall into the mindset that he's a forgotten entity.
"You just gotta try to stay up, keep preparing as if you’re the starter," Douglas said after the regular-season finale vs. the Cowboys. "You don’t really get those reps in practice. You just gotta take advantage of the reps you do get and get better in those."
With Doug Pederson's deciding to give a number of his starters most of Sunday’s meaningless game vs. Dallas off, Douglas finally was back in the mix. He played all 68 snaps against the Cowboys.
It was a bone-chilling day at Lincoln Financial Field, but for a guy who had played just 16 snaps the previous six games, it didn’t take long for him to find his footing. He was satisfied with his overall game except for the lone score given up, which he was responsible for on a 20-yard strike from Dak Prescott to Brice Butler.
"It was cold out there, but I didn’t feel rusty at all," said Douglas, who's amassed 25 tackles and two picks on the season. "You gotta get your feet back together, get your groove on, how you do stuff and you’re fine. We were in zero coverage and [Butler] was giving me double moves. Then he ran a slant and I gave it up. That’s on me. I can’t let anyone get outside. But I'd rather them throw a fade instead of a slant."
It’s yet to be determined how much Douglas will be used in the playoffs, if any. But his approach will not waver.
“I just gotta keep working every day I come to practice, just do like I’ve been doing," Douglas said. "Pick something to get better at and improve as I can."