Eagles

Eagles

Dexter McDougle made his Eagles debut at practice Monday, and although he wasn't around to talk about it, one of his oldest friends was.

Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith, who has known McDougle since they were kids in Virginia, said he expects the 26-year-old cornerback to pick up the Eagles' defense quickly.

The Eagles acquired Smith from the Jets on Sunday in exchange for safety Terrence Brooks. McDougle watched practice on Sunday and participated Monday. So after Tuesday's practice, he'll have just two full sessions to prepare for the preseason finale against the Jets at the Meadowlands on Thursday night.

Not a long time to get comfortable in a new system. 

"This defense, for them, it's not rocket science," Smith said. "You're in man or you're in zone, how's your help, how's your leverage. But I think he'll be fine. The coaches have been working with him and he'll pick it up."

Whether McDougle has a realistic chance to stick when cuts are made on Sept. 2 remains to be seen. This is certainly a crowded cornerback picture, with 11 corners on the roster plus swing D-back Jaylen Watkins, who has been working at corner.

McDougle, a third-round pick of the Jets in 2014, has played in just 20 regular-season games with no starts. He played no defensive snaps in 2014, 50 in 2015 and six in 2016.

"Yeah, he plays tough," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said Monday. "He plays competitive. He can play the nickel. That adds to it. He's had some quality reps on special teams. Those are all things that we're looking for."

 

Smith has known McDougle since they were kids.

"He looks the best I've ever seen him," Smith said. "He's always played well in camp and stuff and then he'd just have fluke injuries. But I think now he's ready, he's definitely ready. He's in great shape, he's playing well, it's no surprise they traded for him."

Schwartz was asked Monday about getting McDougle ready for the regular-season opener, but he said right now the priority is just getting him ready to play Thursday night against his former team.

"First, we've got to get him ready to play in that fourth preseason game," Schwartz said. "We've got to keep the schemes simple enough that we can evaluate him. That's sort of the way we treat the preseason anyway, particularly a fourth preseason game.

"We have a good practice (Monday), we have a decent practice (Tuesday). There will be some other things that we can do to get extra evaluations on new guys that come in, including guys like Dex. 

"The good news is because he has a little bit of experience in the NFL, it's really just a matter of picking up terminology, rather than learning everything from the start."
 
Smith and McDougle were teammates at Stafford High School in Fredericksburg, Va., and have been friends since McDougle was in fifth grade.

Smith said he's been raving about the Eagles since he got here, so McDougle already had a positive impression of the franchise before the trade.

"He knows, before he knew he was coming here, he knew what I thought of it," he said. "I told him it looks like how it's supposed to look here. 

"I don't want to fire any shots [at the Jets] or anything, but he's been at a place where there's been a lot of change and it hasn't been as stable and for him to see they have it here, it's kind of a different type of [situation] here."

Realistically, it's going to be very difficult for McDougle to make the Eagles' final 53-man roster considering he's competing against guys who've been here throughout the summer, OTAs and training camp. 

"That's a valid point," Schwartz said. "You do have a better body of work for guys that have been here. But that's just part of this business. There may come times during the season that we bring guys in on a Tuesday and they've got to start due to injuries or something like that. It's nothing new for coaches."