Avonte Maddox

Howie Roseman hints at Avonte Maddox's position in 2020

Howie Roseman hints at Avonte Maddox's position in 2020

The more you listen to Howie Roseman, the clearer the plan is for Avonte Maddox.

Outside corner.

Roseman on Thursday heaped some pretty lavish praise on Maddox when asked whether he sees him as purely a nickel or whether he thinks he has the ability at 5-9 to be a full-time outside cornerback.

If that’s the plan – and it sure appears it is – it makes the Eagles’ secondary plan much, much clearer.

I grew up admiring the Darrell Greens and Aaron Glenns of the world, and these guys, they’re explosive, twitched-up guys who had an incredible vertical, and it’s hard to get the ball on them,” Roseman said. “Avonte’s got a lot of those same characteristics.

Did Howie just compare Avonte Maddox to Darrell Green and Aaron Glenn?

Green spent all 20 of his NFL seasons with the Redskins, making seven Pro Bowls before retiring after the 2002 season and heading straight to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Glenn spent most of his career with the Jets and made three Pro Bowls during his 15-year career.  

Both were 5-9. Maddox is 5-9.

If Roseman projects Maddox and Darius Slay at outside corner and Jalen Mills or Will Parks at safety alongside Rodney McLeod, that leaves Cre’von LeBlanc and newcomer Nickell Robey-Coleman to compete at the slot and likely leaves 2017 draft picks Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas outside looking in. 

Especially with the liklihood that the Eagles will draft a corner in the second or third round.

Maddox has played all over the secondary since the Eagles drafted him in the fourth round out of Pitt in 2018, but the slot seems like his strongest position.

But the Eagles have a shortage of outside corners and a surplus of nickels.

Slay's presence means the Eagles’ other outside corner will rarely be opposite the opposing team’s top receiver.

Can Maddox handle it?

This is a guy who has started on the outside for us in playoff games, he has the ability to have sticky coverage with receivers inside or out,” Roseman said. “Obviously, he’s also played in the back end. He’s got a great mentality, and he’s got a great physical skill set. He’s an explosive, twitched-up guy as well, so yeah, we feel like he’s a guy who can play all over the secondary and certainly feel comfortable with him outside as well.

Maddox, who turns 24 on Tuesday, has started 15 games in his first two seasons, has two INTs, 14 pass knockdowns, two forced fumbles and 1 ½ sacks.

Roseman made one more comparison. He just didn’t say who he was comparing him to.

“If you look at his profile, his height, his length, and then you see there’s a guy who got drafted in the top five who’s a very similar tale of the tape,” he said. “And so nobody is talking about him in the same way.”

Roseman was most likely talking about Denzel Ward, who was the fourth pick in that same 2018 draft that produced Maddox, and is now a Pro Bowler with the Browns.

So in the span of 60 seconds, Howie compared Maddox to a Hall of Famer, a three-time Pro Bowler and one of the most promising young outside corners in the league.

The Eagles don’t need Maddox to be a Hall of Famer, just a solid, smart, physical, athletic presence at outside corner.

And it sure sounds like he’s going to get the opportunity to prove he can be just that.

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After missing last year's playoff run, Rodney McLeod savoring every moment

After missing last year's playoff run, Rodney McLeod savoring every moment

If there’s one lesson Rodney McLeod took from the ACL injury that ended his 2018 season early, it’s to never take any part of the game for granted. 

As McLeod gets ready for this playoff run, he’s savoring every moment. 

“Opportunities like this don’t come often,” McLeod said Thursday. “I feel like it took me a while to get to the playoffs and now I’m able to get back coming off the injury. Looking forward to it. Want to take full advantage of the opportunity and not take it for granted. Give it everything I got.”

McLeod, 29, didn’t get to the playoffs until his sixth season in the NFL. When he finally did, he was a big part of the run to Super Bowl LII. 

But last year, he tore his ACL in the third game of the season and was forced to watch the rest of the season, including the improbable playoff run to Chicago and New Orleans. 

It was the first serious injury of his career and it taught him something important. 

Any play, it can be taken away from you,” McLeod said. “It put things in perspective for me. I feel like I always play the game with a lot of passion and energy. At the end of the day, I think it does put things in perspective.”

Coming off his ACL tear, McLeod has been playing at a high level this season. Not only has he started all 16 games, he’s missed just two of 1,034 defensive snaps on the year. 

As the Eagles’ free safety, McLeod is a calming presence for a secondary that, for the second straight season, had been decimated by injury at the cornerback position. And having McLeod on the field allows Jim Schwartz to take advantage of Malcolm Jenkins’ versatility, playing him all over the field and sending him on more blitzes than last year. 

“He's such a consistent player for us and again, he just gives us such a sense of calm on the field because he's such a good communicator,” Schwartz said. “He’s certainly a valuable part of our team.”

This past offseason, McLeod agreed to restructure his contract, taking a pay cut to keep him in Philly for 2019. After this season, McLeod will become an unrestricted free agent. But it’s no surprise McLeod wanted to stay here; he’s invested a lot in this franchise. 

Even last year, when he was injured, he was still a huge part of the team. McLeod was in every meeting, at every game. He was a mentor, a sounding board and a hype man. It was McLeod who would pump up the defensive backs in the tunnel before every key game down the stretch. 

“I think just me being one of the leaders on this team, I felt like it was just part of my duty and role at that time,” McLeod said. “I wasn’t able to be out there with the team and contribute. But what I could do was motivate some guys, encourage some dudes and shed a little light. I felt like that was my role last year and that’s what I did to help these guys out.”

That support throughout last season was meaningful to his teammates, especially Avonte Maddox. Then a rookie, Maddox filled in for McLeod for a good portion of the season as a free safety. 

Maddox said it meant a lot to have McLeod guiding him through a new position through every turn last season. 

But how much does it mean to have McLeod back on the field this year? 

“A lot more,” Maddox said with a smile. 

It means an awful lot to McLeod too. And he’s going to enjoy every minute of it. 

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Eagles Injury Update: Good news on Miles Sanders and Avonte Maddox

Eagles Injury Update: Good news on Miles Sanders and Avonte Maddox

Good news for Miles Sanders and Avonte Maddox, who both left the Giants game Sunday with injuries in the second quarter and didn’t return.

Doug Pederson said Monday that Sanders and Maddox are both OK and should be available for the playoff opener against the Seahawks on Sunday.

Sanders, the Eagles’ leading rusher and Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate, left in the second quarter with an ankle sprain. Maddox left in the second quarter with an unknown injury.

The Eagles are thin at both running back and cornerback, so their return is huge.

Sanders led all NFL rookies in scrimmage yards, and Maddox averaged 44 snaps in the 12 games he was healthy for. With Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills both out, he made his sixth start of the year on Sunday in the Eagles' 34-17 division clincher over the Giants. 

“Miles, the ankle, he’s going to be day-to-day, should be OK, got good news on him, same with Avonte,” Pederson said. “Both those guys are tough guys (and) they should both be OK.”

Pederson also said Zach Ertz (broken rib), who missed the Giants game, and Lane Johnson (high ankle sprain), who's missed the last two games, both have a chance to practice this week and aren’t ruled out for Sunday.

Pederson didn’t confirm a published report that Ertz has a lacerated kidney in addition to the rib injury.

“I don’t believe a lot of those reports, obviously, but I know this, Zach’s a tough guy and we’re going to be smart and we’re going do our due diligence before we put any injured player back out on the field,” he said. “But we’re excited that we can at least incorporate him back into the work this week … and see where he’s at at the end of the week.”

Pederson also said defensive end Daeshon Hall, who played 51 snaps on defense this year and 71 on special teams, tore his ACL on the final play of the game, so he’ll be placed on IR, which will open up a roster spot for a healthy body. 

Receiver Marken Michel and running back De’Angelo Henderson are both possible practice squad call-ups.

The Eagles also lost Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury that will require surgery (see story).

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