Earlier this week, Billy Davis was asked about Nolan Carroll, and he raved about what he’s seen from the 28 year old cornerback.
“He had one of the best offseasons I’ve been around,” Davis said. “He really has. From every competition, I think he won maybe every competition that we had in the offseason through his technique that he’s diving into.”
What are those competitions? Each day during practice – both in the spring and summer – Chip Kelly comes up with something. It might be something in the weight room or something on the field.
“We had plate holds to see who could hold it the longest,” Carroll said, when asked which ones he’s won. “…We had fastest miles per hour during practice, who was the fastest guy.”
“I think it was 21.3 miles per hour. It stayed there for the longest time, and then Denzel Rice beat it. He had 22.1, I think it was. For the longest time, I had the record. Just little things like that. He just wanted to be able to have us compete the whole time, not just be lackadaisical and be complacent certain days and guys not really reaching their peak. Every single day, he put in a surprise competition for us.”
It’s common around NFL training camps to hear players talk about how they’re in the best shape of their lives, but given the numbers on Carroll, it might actually be true. He’s setting personal bests in the weight room and beating out his teammates in Kelly’s competitions.
Last year was frustrating for him. Carroll sat back and watched as Bradley Fletcher and the secondary gave up big plays on a weekly basis. Carroll didn’t complain, instead focusing his energy on learning the dime role.
But 2015 is a different story. A starting cornerback spot is up for grabs, and Carroll is the frontrunner to get the nod.
“Coming from Miami, playing a bunch and then all of a sudden come somewhere else and you’re not playing as much just frustrated me a lot,” Carroll said. “I know what I was used to, and I know what I could have done. That feeling after the season of really feeling like I didn’t contribute as much, I just felt like I had to do something different this year to get on the field.”
Two-a-day workouts in Florida, on-field technique work and yoga produced results for Carroll, who Davis admitted probably should have gotten more of a shot to play last year.
“As we went along, I didn’t get him in there enough, and I probably should have. That’s on me,” Davis said.
“I’ve got this beautiful view of hindsight right now that when you’re in the middle of it, you don’t quite have it. And as it works out and plays out against what you thought, you kind of say to yourself, ‘I might have made a mistake there.’ ”
The addition of Cory Undlin as defensive backs coach has helped Carroll. Undlin has NFL coaching experience and is considered to be particularly knowledgeable when it comes to press coverage. The Eagles’ scheme is predicated on the cornerbacks disrupting the timing of opposing wide receivers, giving the pass rush time to get home.
“What I was doing in Miami compared to what [Undlin’s] teaching was wrong,” Carroll said. “He wants everything to be lateral, not take a step back and give ground. That’s what I was kind of doing just because I’m a little bit faster, I felt like I could take a step back, and the receiver can do whatever they want and then release. But he wants us to be stout at the line and get physical at the line and not give them that space to move around and run.”
So far, the coaches have been impressed with what they’ve seen from Carroll, and he’s the favorite to start opposite Byron Maxwell Week 1 against the Falcons. Eric Rowe has a shot, and JaCorey Shepherd shouldn’t be counted out, but right now it’s Carroll’s job to lose.
“I definitely didn’t want to look back and say, ‘I should have done this better or I should have done this better’ or second-guess myself on certain things I did in the offseason,” Carroll said. “I wanted to make sure I did everything possible to know that when I came out here I was prepared.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
What they’re saying: “I think there’s also some truth to the notion Kelly’s decisions are colored by his career experience managing powerless amateurs as opposed to millionaire pro athletes.”
“I would say 100 times more comfortable than I was last year.” T-Mac catches up with Marcus Smith.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“What you have to do is make yourself uncomfortable throughout practice,” Agholor said. “If I walk off the field fatigued and tired, that’s a good thing.
“My last year [at USC], we tried a little bit to try to emulate this same style of play, so I had a little bit of an advantage. But this is different, obviously. We do it with more of a sense of urgency throughout everything. This is the highest level.”
A couple Tweets on former Eagles worth noting:
New #Steelers CB Brandon Boykin already getting a chance to play outside…at RCB.
— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) August 5, 2015
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) August 5, 2015
We’ll be back at practice this morning with updates from Chip.