Rowe’s First Impression Of Chip
When Eric Rowe entered the hotel room in Mobile, Ala. last January, he was greeted by seven Eagles representatives.
This was part of the interview process at the Senior Bowl. Players practice during the day and meet with teams at nights. One of the faces staring back at Rowe was Chip Kelly. And Rowe didn’t exactly feel warmth from the Eagles head coach.
“When they were really asking me questions, he would just lean back in his chair just writing down everything I said,” Rowe recalled. “And I was like, ‘What is he writing? Am I saying something wrong?’ He didn’t even budge a smile at me. I tried to crack a joke, just nothing. I was like, ‘Man, this guy’s tough.’ ”
Rowe didn’t know it when he walked out of the room, but he obviously made a great first impression.
After the Eagles traded up to grab him in the second round, Rowe met with Kelly once again – this time at the NovaCare Complex.
“He was excited, happy, cracking smiles, joking with me,” Rowe said. “I was like, ‘This is a totally different guy than I first met.’ ”
Rowe and the rest of the Eagles rookies took the field today for the start of a three-day rookie camp. He played safety for three years at Utah before transitioning to cornerback in 2014. But Kelly said last week that Rowe would start out at corner, and that’s where he lined up today.
The Eagles want their defensive backs to be able to press at the line of scrimmage and disrupt the timing of opposing receivers. Rowe estimated that he pressed about 95 percent of the time last year with the Utes.
In his first official practice, he got matched up against first-round pick Nelson Agholor.
“I had a lot of reps against him, man press too,” Rowe said. “A couple routes he got me, a couple breaks I got him.”
The hope for the Eagles is that Rowe develops to the point where he’s starting at cornerback opposite Byron Maxwell in Week 1. In past years, Kelly has been slow to bump rookies up to the first team, and Rowe knows that despite his draft standing, he’ll have to earn the job.
“I can’t say I want to be a starter Week 1,” he said. “Definitely in the NFL that’s not how it works. You’ve gotta earn your spot, you’ve gotta earn your respect. Just like a freshman coming in college, you’ve gotta learn from the people ahead of you. That’s the approach I’m gonna take when we get to meet with the vets and everything Monday.”