As Eagles players began stretching before practice on Wednesday morning, there was a notable addition to the group: Ronald Darby.
The Eagles’ highest-paid cornerback, who signed a one-year deal to return to the Eagles this offseason, is still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered on Nov. 11. But he has been working out on a side field during recent practices and things are going well.
He fully expects to be ready for training camp in late July:
I’m right where I need to be. Everything is going good, no setbacks. Putting up good numbers each week in rehab, so going to be ready for training camp.
Darby, 25, said he isn’t sure if he’ll be a full participant or not at the start of training camp, but will definitely be out there. And his plan is to still be ready for the season opener on Sept. 8.
In recent weeks, Darby has been spotted running sprints on a side field and has looked really good. He said he’s been running up to 22 miles per hour.
He’s quite literally sprinting toward a return.
“I feel good. I feel real good,” Darby said. “Of course I don’t feel 100 percent, like myself, but I feel good.”
Despite being considered by some to be one of the top cornerbacks on the free agent market this past offseason, Darby signed a one-year deal to return to Philadelphia. The deal is worth $6.5 million with $4.5 million guaranteed, making him the Eagles’ top-paid cornerback by a wide margin.
When asked why he decided to return to Philly, Darby had an interesting answer:
I’m comfortable here. I know I’m coming off this injury, why not be somewhere where you’re comfortable, know the system? And the only thing I have to worry about is getting healthy to be able to play at my full potential. I don’t really have time to worry about trying to get healthy and trying to learn a new system, try to learn new coaches, players. And I love it here. I want to be here. It’s where I want to be.
That makes a lot of sense. If Darby signed elsewhere, he’d be trying to rehab while also learning a new defense and his fit in it. Missing all of the spring when you’re playing in a familiar system isn’t a big deal, but if he were in a different city, he’d be missing valuable time learning the defense while rehabbing.
Because of his familiarity with Schwartz’s scheme and how he fits into it, Darby can focus 100 percent of his energy on rehab. When he’s finally healthy, he can simply get plugged into the defense. This is a one-year, prove-it deal. By playing in a defense with which he’s already comfortable, Darby gives himself the best chance to succeed, and thus, prove himself before a big pay day.
We don’t know exactly how the Eagles’ cornerback position will shake out this summer, but the Eagles didn’t pay Darby to sit him on the bench. Expect him to line up with starters when he’s back at training camp.
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