Jordan Mailata has been watching DeVonta Smith from afar and marveling at the way the 23-year-old goes about his business.
You don’t often hear offensive linemen marveling at wide receivers, but here we are.
The kid is impressive.
“If you see Smitty and how he conducts himself every day, he’s so accountable, he’s so professional about his routine,” Mailata said. “The guy has a routine every day. And when you see that, especially as his teammate, you respect that a lot and it makes you want to do the same thing.
"It’s a very infectious culture we’re trying to create and for his first year in the league it’s incredible what he’s doing now.”
We can all see Smith’s athleticism, his speed, his natural route running ability and even his toughness at 165 pounds.
But it’s what happens behind the scenes that really makes Smith special. And his preparation is impeccable.
“He comes here before some of the trainers in the morning,” Mailata said. “I see him in his locker with his iPad doing the extra stuff he does, in the gym we work out, dude’s leading in there, trying to break scores, trying to make numbers. It’s incredible.”
Did the Eagles finally get it right?
It looks that way.
Smith, the 10th pick in this year’s draft, has had some ups and downs, but he’s on pace to shatter every Eagles rookie receiving record and become the first Eagles WR with 1,000 yards in a season since Jeremy Maclin in 2014.
Yeah, he’s a rookie, but he sure doesn’t carry himself like one. Whether you’re watching him at practice or on the sideline during a game or between snaps when the offense is on the field or just listening to him speak, this is a rookie with a veteran’s mindset.
And it starts with that daily routine, which begins before the sun rises.
“Just have to do something that you’re comfortable with and know what you have to work on,” Smith said. “That’s why I get here so early, because I know there’s some things I have to work on and with meetings starting so early I can have a little more time. But whatever you’re comfortable doing, you just stick with it.”
The best thing about Smith is how humble he is.
His numbers may look good on the outside, but all he talks about is how much better he could be. How much better he should be.
On Thursday, he spoke about the first half of his rookie season and not surprisingly his focus was on what he didn’t do.
“I feel like I left a lot out there,” he said. “A lot of plays I wish I could have had back. From a learning standpoint, I’ve learned a lot about myself and the game of football in general. I feel like it was all right, but there were things I left out there. But ultimately I’m learning a lot.”
Smith has had some games where he didn’t put up big numbers – he only had one 15-yard catch in the win in Detroit - but stats aren’t how he evaluates himself.
Honestly, it’s refreshing hearing him talk about himself. He’s not your ordinary wide receiver with a huge ego and a me-first mentality.
“Ultimately you want to win, so whatever you can do to contribute,” he said. “If I gotta go out there and I’ve got to block every play, then that’s what I’m going do. Because we’re here to win. There’s going to be games where we run the ball a lot, there’s going to be games where we throw the ball a lot, so just whatever I can do to help the team.
“Everybody knows that any game can be your game. You just go out there, the ball is going to find who it’s supposed to find. The quarterback has his reads to certain coverages and that’s where the ball’s supposed to go, so that’s where he’s going to throw it, so it just comes down to doing your job and when the ball finds you, just make the most of your opportunity.
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