Darby Likes What He Sees in Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - It could have been worse.
That was essentially Ronald Darby's assessment of the recent upheaval in his life that sent the young cornerback from Buffalo to Philadelphia for Jordan Matthews and a third-round pick.
"My heart dropped first, because I heard trade, and some teams I didn’t want to go to," Darby joked. "So when I heard Philly, I’m like, ‘OK, that ain’t that bad.’"
The Eagles are feeling the same way after watching their new cornerback for a second straight day in practice.
Darby worked mainly on the right side Monday after debuting as the LC a day earlier and his 4.4 speed is evident as is his quick-twitch reaction to the football in the air.
Darby got the best of Alshon Jeffery early in practice and then intercepted a back-shoulder fade intended for Mack Hollins. Later, he had a pass breakup when he jumped a Torrey Smith route near the goal line.
Smith, a fellow speedster, joked that he could run by Darby in the locker room after practice but admitted the young corner has a different gear compared to most corners.
"I can run by anyone," Smith said, "but he can run, there's no question about that."
As for Darby, he's excited to be in a defense with a good front as well as a sound safety situation after experiencing a year in Buffalo in which he had a revolving door behind him.
"Upfront, it's crazy [good]," Darby said. "We got experienced safeties, people that know what they’re doing, so I’m like, ‘OK, I can do that.’ So it was a little bit of a relief [coming to Philadelphia]. It could have always been a lot worse. So I was pretty much happy."
What he's not happy with is No. 35, however, so pump the brakes before committing to your Darby jersey because that number is likely to change come the cutdown to 53.
"This number is horrible," Darby said. "I’m gonna try to get out of it as fast as possible. I’m trying to work some things out behind the scenes. I came so late. Something in the 20s, trying to go for that 28. I’ve been in [Wendell Smallwood's] ear a little bit, but something in the 20s."
The other attraction at practice on Monday was a great individual battle between receiver Nelson Agholor and Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins during one-on-one work in the red zone.
Agholor, working from the slot, burned Jenkins on two consecutive opportunities with really crisp route running before Jenkins recovered in Round No. 3 by bodying up Agholor at the line of scrimmage and ripping the ball out at the goal line.
The two players were chippy throughout the series but Agholor downplayed that after.
"It's just competition," he said. "We are all working to get better."
DAY 17 NOVACARE NOTES:
-Backup quarterback Nick Foles was back at practice after missing significant time with elbow soreness. Foles was still limited, however, and Matt McGloin continued to handle the majority of work with the second team. Also back to work were Smallwood and right guard Brandon Brooks.
-Still missing from practice were swing tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee), cornerback Ron Brooks (hamstring), receiver Paul Turner (shoulder), receiver Bryce Treggs (leg soreness) and guard Josh Andrews (hand).
-Alshon Jeffery got a little bit of work in team drills for the first time since tweaking his shoulder. Previously the WR1 had been working only in 7-on-7 work.
-The Eagles broke out a 13 personnel formation where trey Burton was detached inside of Brent Celek and Zach Ertz, all to the right side. The target was Burton on a quick button hook.
-Carson Wentz was a little wild high during the session.
-Rookie Mack Hollins continued to work for the first team when Jeffery wasn't in.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen