Rasul Douglas

Breaking down 6 young Eagles Doug Pederson is impressed with

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Breaking down 6 young Eagles Doug Pederson is impressed with

On Thursday, before the final practice of the long spring, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was asked if there were any players lower on the depth chart who have stood out over the last few weeks. 

Pederson started by mentioning some players who came into the league last year. Eventually, he named six guys. 

Let’s take a look at each of them. 

Rashard Davis
The first name to come out of his mouth. Not bad for a first-year player from James Madison. Davis is 5-foot-9, 175. The receiver also has the ability to return, something we’ve seen him do since he’s been with the Eagles. 

Davis was signed as an undrafted free agent a year ago and spent most of the 2017 season on the practice squad. He was signed to a futures deal after the completion of the season. 

At JMU, Davis was a standout receiver and returner, on his way to being named an FCS All-American. Davis returned four punts for touchdowns and had 42 catches for 530 yards and three more touchdowns as a receiver. 

With the Eagles, he faces an uphill battle to make the roster, but they seem to like his versatility. 

Greg Ward
Pederson mentioned Davis and Ward in the same breath and it’s easy to see why. Both are smallish slot receivers who were a part of the same undrafted class. Ward’s story is slightly different though. At 5-11, 186, Ward was a prolific quarterback at the University of Houston but is making the transition to receiver at the NFL level. 

He was signed as an undrafted player last year and spent the season on the Eagles’ practice squad, at times taking over scout-team QB reps to imitate mobile quarterbacks. 

While at Houston, he proved to be a dual threat. He was a good passer, but his legs made him dangerous. This spring, Ward got some run with the first-team offense and the Eagles seemed to like his trick-play potential. This past week, we saw the offense run some trick plays with him, where he became the passer. On one, he even threw the ball to Nick Foles, sort of like the Philly Special. 

Shelton Gibson 
Last year, Gibson was a fifth-round pick out of West Virginia, but he didn't get to play a ton. He caught just two passes all season and they came in that regular-season finale against the Cowboys. 

But Gibson has looked good this spring (see story). That's a really good sign because he had a terrible spring and terrible summer as a rookie. It was probably in part because he came from a really simple college offense and had to pick up the Eagles' complex scheme. 

This year, he's thinking less and making more plays. 

Rasul Douglas 
It seems a little weird to put Douglas on this list after he was a third-round pick a year ago and then started five games in the Super Bowl season, but he’s buried on the depth chart. 

The thing that hurts Douglas is his body type. He’s strictly an outside cornerback. So while Sidney Jones, De’Vante Bausby and D.J. Killings have gotten first-team reps in the slot, Douglas is planted firmly behind Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby at outside corner. He’s probably behind Jones either way. 

That’s gotta be tough for Douglas, going from starter to being back on the bench. But he’s the perfect example of the depth this team has at the position. Pederson says Douglas has “emerged” this spring. 

Dallas Goedert
It’s no surprise Pederson is bullish on Goedert, whom he said is “going to be a nice fit for us as a tight end.” The rookie from South Dakota State had a great spring. He caught everything and is an athletic specimen. 

There’s a really good chance Goedert can be a monster in the red zone (see story).

Still, a long way to go, and we’ll see what happens when the pads go on, but there’s no reason to think Goedert can’t be a huge contributor as a rookie. 

Aziz Shittu
Probably a name you haven’t heard in a while, but Shittu has stood out as much as any defensive tackle can in non-padded practices. 

Shittu came to the Eagles as an undrafted free agent from Stanford in 2016. But thanks to that stupid college graduation rule he missed all those spring practices. That allowed another undrafted rookie (Destiny Vaeao) to get in front of him and Shittu never recovered. He was brought back to the practice squad in 2016 and then signed a futures contract before last season, but then suffered a knee injury in May and was placed on IR. 

It appears he’s healthy now and is showing some of that burst that made him intriguing to the Eagles in the first place. 

What is Rasul Douglas' mindset? 'Every spot is open'

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What is Rasul Douglas' mindset? 'Every spot is open'

For now, we assume that Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby are the Eagles' starting cornerbacks and that Sidney Jones will be pushing for significant playing time.

So where does that leave Rasul Douglas?

When Darby went down in last year’s season opener against Washington with a dislocated ankle, Douglas was the next man up. Over the next nine games, he averaged 42 snaps and played well. But when Darby returned to the lineup, Douglas' game reps evaporated. The next five games, Douglas played a grand total of 16 defensive snaps, then closed out the regular season with 68 snaps in a meaningless finale against Dallas.

When the playoffs rolled around, Douglas’ snap count was zero. He spent part of the offseason reflecting on his roller-coaster rookie campaign and vowed to get better.

Now the OTAs are here and Douglas is constantly working on improving and turning the coaches' heads his way. He’s not thinking about being a backup; his mindset is he’s competing to start.

“I feel like every spot is open," Douglas said this week. "No matter what the position, you have to ensure the coaches that you can play and that you understand everything mentally. Physically, we’re all in the league for a reason. It’s all mentally — can you sustain a playbook? Can you be a guy we can depend on? Be the same person every day.”

While the job description says corner, he’s not limiting himself to just that role.

“I like myself as a corner, but I can play anything," Douglas said. "Safety, nickel, it doesn’t really matter.”

He hasn’t practiced at safety at all this spring and the only time he practiced at safety last year was when the team was in Los Angeles for a week preceding the Rams game. And that was on the scout team. All he’s trying to do is make himself more versatile, more valuable so that he’s hopefully on the field more than on the bench.

Terrell Owens' HOF case, Eagles rookies, and more in Roob's observations

Terrell Owens' HOF case, Eagles rookies, and more in Roob's observations

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Terrell Owens' Hall of Fame chances, Eagles rookies during Super Bowl week, lots of rushing stats that fascinate me and a Mind-Boggling Nick Foles Stat of the Day that includes Chad Pennington.

That's just a taste of what's to come in our Thursday night edition of Roob's 10 random Eagles Super Bowl observations!

Sit down, relax and let the observations come to you!

1. I don't like Owens. I don't like him at all. He didn't strike me as a particularly good person during his brief stop in Philly. But the Pro Football Hall of Fame doesn't have a word in its bylaws about whether a candidate is a good person or not. It's all about production, and you just can't deny that T.O. is one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history. They put Cris Carter in the Hall of Fame, and T.O. has 2,000 more yards, 23 more touchdowns and three more first-team All-Pro seasons than Carter. Not to mention nearly 2½ yards more per catch. He's No. 2 behind Jerry Rice in receiving yards. No. 2. And you want to talk character … Carter is a convicted felon. T.O. has never been arrested. The Hall of Fame is a sham if T.O. doesn't get in. 

2. I have no idea what this means, but there have been only seven rushing touchdowns of 20 yards or more in 51 Super Bowls and only two in the last 26 Super Bowls — DeShaun Foster's 33-yarder for the Panthers against the Patriots in 2003 and Willie Parker's 75-yarder for the Steelers against the Seahawks in 2005. Two in 26 years seems really, really low. I guess that just shows that the Super Bowl is all about quarterbacks and defense. So maybe most Super Bowl teams are built around an elite quarterback and an elite defense, both of which could neutralize big-time running back play.

3. No Eagle rushed for more than 44 rushing yards in either of their Super Bowls. Brian Westbrook and Wilbert Montgomery both ran for 44. Jay Ajayi is going to double that Sunday.

4. Interesting also that the Patriots haven't had anybody rush for more than 44 yards in their last four Super Bowls. In fact, their pass-run ratio in their seven Super Bowls under Tom Brady and Bill Belichick is 334 pass plays and 162 runs. That's a 67-33 ratio. I wouldn't be surprised if Dion Lewis and James White are more involved in the passing game Sunday than the running game. 

5. I don't know what Chris Long's future is or how long he wants to play. He hasn't speculated about it. He turns 33 in March and is in his 11th year in the NFL and his second Super Bowl in a row. I do know that I've never seen a veteran player make as much of an impact as Long has both on the field and off the field in such a short time. The Byron "Whizzer" White Community MVP Award that Long received Thursday is an extraordinary honor, and I can't think of anybody more deserving (see story).

6. I was really impressed by the way all the Eagles handled the Super Bowl media the last four days but in particular the rookies. Guys like Mack Hollins, Derek Barnett, Rasul Douglas and Corey Clement are kids, and I can't imagine being 21, 22, 23 and all of a sudden being thrust into the middle of the most hyped sports event in the world. It speaks volumes about their character and also speaks volumes about the Eagles' veteran leaders who got them ready for all this. Those guys spent a lot of time last week really preparing the younger guys on the team for what they were about to experience. And it definitely paid off. I've always felt this was a really smart, focused, mature team. They played that way all year and behaved that way this week.

7. I find it fascinating that Doug Pederson never mentions Andy Reid. 

8. What do you guys think the odds are that the Replacements will make a surprise halftime appearance backing Justin Timberlake Sunday? This is Minneapolis. How about a halftime All-Star jam with Timberlake singing "Cry me a River" backed by the Replacements, Timbaland, Lil Wayne, Nelly Furtado, Bob Mould, Ringo Starr, Soul Asylum, Christina Aguilera and Rick Aguilera? Maybe?

9. Mind-Boggling Nick Foles Stat of the Day: Foles is the only quarterback in NFL history to have three playoff games with a 69 percent completion percentage or higher and no interceptions before his 30th birthday. Only five others even had two — Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Pennington. (Pennington?) And only 13 others even had one. So there have been a total of 26 such performances in NFL history by quarterbacks in their 20s and Foles has three of them.

10. Here's a fascinating stat that is certainly relevant this year, considering the Eagles' running back rotation: There have been 25 teams in history that had two different running backs with 10 or more carries in a Super Bowl. Those 25 teams went 22-3 — and two of the teams that lost faced a team that also had two double-digit ball-carriers. Here's the full list, with losing teams in italics:

1966 Packers: Jim Taylor (17-56), Elijah Pitts (11-45)
1967 Packers: Ben Wilson (17-62), Donny Anderson (14-48)
1968 Jets: Matt Snell (30-121), Emerson Boozer (10-19)
1969 Chiefs: Warren McVea (12-26), Mike Garrett (11-39)
1970 Colts: Norm Bulaich (18-28), Tom Nowatzke (10-33)
1970 Cowboys: Duane Thomas (18-35), Walt Garrison (12-65)
1971 Cowboys: Duane Thomas (19-95), Walt Garrison (14-74)
1972 Dolphins: Jim Kiick (12-38), Mercury Morris (10-34), Larry Csonka (15-112)
1972 Redskins: Larry Brown (22-72), Charlie Harraway (10-37)
1973 Dolphins: Larry Csonka (33-145), Mercury Morris (11-34)
1974 Steelers: Franco Harris (34-158), Rocky Bleier (17-65)
1975 Steelers: Franco Harris (27-82), Rocky Bleier (15-51)
1976 Raiders: Mark van Eeghen (18-73), Clarence Davis (16-138), Pete Banaszak (10-19)
1977 Cowboys: Tony Dorsett (15-66), Robert Newhouse (14-55)
1979 Steelers: Franco Harris (20-46), Rocky Bleier (10-25)
1984 49ers: Roger Craig (15-58), Wendell Tyler (13-65)
1985 Bears: Walter Payton (22-61), Matt Suhey (11-52)
1989 49ers: Roger Craig (20-69), Tom Rathman (11-38)
1991 Redskins: Earnest Byner (14-49), Ricky Ervins (13-72)
1992 Bills: Kenneth Davis (15-86), Thurman Thomas (11-19)
1996 Packers: Edgar Bennett (17-40), Dorsey Levens (14-61)
2002 Buccaneers: Mike Alstott (10-15), Michael Pittman (29-124) 
2005 Steelers: Jerome Bettis (14-43), Willie Parker (10-93)
2007 Colts: Dominic Rhodes (21-113), Joseph Addai (19-77)
2012 Ravens: Ray Rice (20-59), Bernard Pierce (12-33)