So far at camp, we're seeing a different Sidney Jones

So far at camp, we're seeing a different Sidney Jones

One of the early stars of Eagles training camp has been Sidney Jones, the third-year cornerback whose first two NFL seasons have been plagued by injuries.

So far, Jones has done something every day that really makes you take notice.

It’s only a start, but it’s a positive start for the 23-year-old Jones, who missed virtually all his rookie year because of that Achilles injury he suffered at his Pro Day in May of 2018 and then missed a good chunk of last year with a hamstring injury that just wouldn't go away.

I feel better physically, spiritually, health-wise,” Jones said. “I feel really good about everything. It’s been pretty good. A lot of positives, still a lot to get better at … It’s good for me just to be able to realize if something (bad) happens, know what happened and know how to not have it happen again.

Eagles fans have yet to see what kind of player Jones really is.

“For sure,” he said. “For sure.”

He was healthy early last year before initially hurting his hamstring on Oct. 11 against the Giants in East Rutherford. He missed three games, came back and tried to play for three games, then shut down for the rest of the season.

 I wanted to recover as fast as possible but obviously didn’t have a bunch of weeks to just baby it,” he said. “The week that I came back (against the Saints) it was kind of like we were already down (several corners) so personally I was in a spot where I was probably not ready but just being in that football environment growing up, trying to push through stuff, that’s what football is. But you can’t do that with some injuries. Ankle sprains maybe but not hamstrings. I was like, ‘It’s go time, I’m playing corner, my team needs me,’ so I didn’t think twice about it. All it was was putting the team first. But it hurt me in the long run. It is what it is and you learn from it.

The low point was that Saints game, the regular-season 48-7 loss at the Superdome.

It was Jones' first career start at outside corner, and he simply couldn’t function.

The Saints knew he was hobbled and as NBC Sports’ Peter King revealed later, their gameplan was to go after him as much as possible.

“Good game plan for them,” he says now. “They were smart about it.”

He's a different guy now.

In the early days of camp, Rasul Douglas has been working exclusively outside, with Avonte Maddox and Jones taking turns inside and outside.

Jones has never played in the slot before but said he’s embraced it and understands the value of versatility.

"It’s huge,” he said. “It’s one of the more unappreciated things that I’ve dealt with. I’m an outside corner. So going to play inside, it’s something new. … I’m going to contribute to this team, I’m going to play for this team, but if somebody goes down I have the confidence of going in there, wherever it is."

Good luck trying to figure out this Eagles cornerback picture.

There are injured guys (Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Cre’Von LeBlanc). There are new guys (Orlando Scandrick, Alex Brown). There are young guys (Douglas, Maddox, Jones). And there are camp legs (Josh Hawkins, Jeremiah McKinnon, Jay Liggins).

There are a bunch of guys who can make a claim for a starting spot.

Jones is certainly at the top of that list.

"All I can do is come out here and get 1 percent better every day, make sure I’m trying to reach perfection in terms of every day coming off the field and being assignment sound and having the coaches have the trust in me going forward," he said. "You can’t worry about it."

The kid is a former second-round pick who would have been a first-round pick if he was healthy.

At some point he's going to be a big-time contributor. At some point he's going to be a starter.

Don't be surprised if that point is sooner than later.

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Eagles bringing back receiver Marcus Green

Eagles bringing back receiver Marcus Green

The Eagles are bringing back wide receiver Marcus Green, who spent last season on their practice squad, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. 

Green, 23, was among four Eagles released a week and a half ago. And now he’s coming back. NFL Network first reported the news.   

Green (5-8, 191) was a Falcons 6th-round pick out of Louisiana-Monroe last year. After he was waived at final cuts, Green joined the Eagles in early September and spent the entire 2019 season on the Birds’ practice squad. 

In four years at Louisiana-Monroe, Green caught 202 passes for 2,698 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also had 51 rushing attempts for 492 yards (9.6) and 1 touchdown. He also returned kicks and punts in college. He’s less of a pure receiver and more of a playmaker. 

With Green back, the Eagles have a full roster at 80, although that includes Brandon Brooks and Alshon Jeffery who are both on Active/PUP and are not healthy enough to practice. That 80 does not include Matt Leo who has an International exemption. 

Still, the Eagles are at the 80-man limit to keep them from going split-squad at practices. The Eagles are still in the Acclimatization Period of their collectively bargained training camp. They won’t hold non-padded practices until Aug. 12 and the first padded practice won’t be until Aug. 17. 

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Eagles' Fletcher Cox keeps getting better and it's scary

Eagles' Fletcher Cox keeps getting better and it's scary

He’s going into Year 9 now, he’s made five straight Pro Bowls, and he’s at the point now where some veterans just coast through the rest of their career and pile up the honors and pocket millions of dollars and are OK with just being OK.

Not Fletcher Cox.

This guy will never be content.

“I just want to get better at everything,” Cox said Wednesday.

There’s a lot to admire about Cox. The intensity he plays with. The way he attacks practice. The ferocious physical nature of his game that rubs off on the rest of the team. The team-first mentality that’s built into his personality.

And there’s an impossibly high standard he’s constantly trying to live up to, a standard that drives him no matter how many honors he gets, no matter how many sacks he records.

The great ones all share that trait. Whether it was Reggie White, Seth Joyner or Eric Allen, they all had that burning determination to be even better, that refusal to be content with where they’re at as players.

And that’s the company Cox is in. One of the best in Eagles history. 

If you’re a young player or any player really and you see the highest-paid or most-honored players working their ass off every day, you’re going to follow in line.

That's what leadership really is. Not all that rah-rah stuff. It's setting an example for the people around you.  

That’s why veterans who mail it in are so damaging to any team. 

Because young guys are always going to follow the lead of the established veterans, and if those guys are taking shortcuts and not fully committed, that’s when you get disasters like the 2011 Dream Team.

Cox was at work at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday, self-scouting, watching tape of himself, and that’s all he could think about.

The plays he didn’t make.

I was watching film yesterday, we were all in there, and I saw some things I can get better at, and I’ve got to work on those things during training camp,” he said. “I feel like if I can get off of blocks [better], there are three or four or five [more] sacks out there for me. When you look at it on tape, man, if I would have gotten off a second sooner it’s a sack. Just little things like that. But not only me getting better but the whole group getting better.

Think about Cox’s career.

He’s got 48 sacks in eight seasons despite dealing with constant double teams. And he stuffs the run as well as anybody in the game.

And for a lot of his years here, he’s been a one-man wrecking crew. 

The Eagles haven’t had a double-digit edge rusher since Cox was drafted, although Brandon Graham has been close a couple times. 

And the defensive tackles he’s played next to the most — Bennie Logan, Timmy Jernigan, Cullen Jenkins, Haloti Ngata, Beau Allen, Derek Landri and Isaac Sopoaga — have all been either average, injured, disappointing or washed up. 

He’s never had the benefit of elite talent around him. 

In fact, the only Pro Bowlers Cox has ever taken the field with here are Malcolm Jenkins in 2015, 2017 and 2018 and Connor Barwin in 2014.

Reggie had Jerome, Seth, Clyde, Byron Evans, Wes and Andre and Eric Allen around him.

Cox has carried this defense for almost a decade. 

And all he talks about is getting better.

Last year wasn’t Cox’s best year. He spent the offseason rehabbing the toe injury he suffered in the Saints playoff game and wasn’t really himself until the last month or so.

He still made his fifth straight Pro Bowl just because he’s that good.

But this offseason, he was able to get back to his normal offseason routine, and now he has a healthy Malik Jackson and newly acquired Javon Hargrave next to him, more interior talent than he’s ever seen.

If there is football this fall, the NFL is going to see a Hall of Fame talent wearing No. 91 for the Eagles.

A healthy, motivated, driven Fletcher Cox is scary news for opposing offenses. 

We're lucky to have him.

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