Schwartz Leaves Out Rowe When Talking CB Battle

Is there a new favorite to start at cornerback opposite of Leodis McKelvin?

Jim Schwartz. (USA Today)

Jim Schwartz. (USA Today)

It’s not newsworthy when a coach innocuously forgets to mention a player during his press conference when discussing a position battle. But when Jim Schwartz named five corners competing for playing time and didn’t mention Eric Rowe, just a day after Doug Pederson did the same and said Rowe has experienced some “hiccups” this offseason, it seems the second-year defensive back out of Utah may not have as big of a role this season as people expected.

“It’s going to be fun to watch the corners compete. We have some guys that can cover; we got some guys that have a great opportunity here,” Schwartz said. “With the blend of veteran players, a guy like Nolan Carroll, who we talked about, [and] Leodis McKelvin. Some young guys that have some opportunities — Jalen [Mills] has done a nice job for a rookie so far; Ron Brooks is going to have an opportunity. You have guys coming off injury like [JaCorey] Shepherd, who’s been out here. I think it’s going to be exciting to watch those guys.”

After OTAs wrapped up in the spring, Pederson named McKelvin as the one cornerback who had stood out. It appeared as though Rowe, Brooks and Carroll would battle for the starting spot opposite of McKelvin, and perhaps even Mills, but as Pederson put it yesterday, Rowe has been “pulled back a little bit.” Last season, Rowe played relatively well after subbing in for Carroll, who broke his fibula on Thanksgiving and was placed on the injured reserve list.

According to Schwartz, Carroll made “good progress” this offseason during rehab, and he didn’t feel pressure to rush the corner back because Carroll is a veteran and was good in meetings. Carroll, in addition to Shepherd, reported for training camp three days before most of the other veterans to practice with the rookies for the entire week.

“He had a really good year last year, so we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves with him or take him out of his comfort level,” Schwartz said. “This is important for him now. It’s a good opportunity for him to come back before the full club gets here just to test it out and see how he’s feeling. You don’t want to judge too much, and he might need a day here or there. It helps that he’s a veteran player. It helps that he’s experienced. He’s able to make a lot of reps that he’s not out there – mental reps, so to speak. He can learn and learn vicariously through the other guys; he’s done that.”

However, Schwartz also made it clear that it’s dangerous to start making judgments now about the roster configuration in September. He referenced how the Eagles haven’t been hitting, which should benefit Rowe, who’s known as a physical player.

“You can make mistakes if you do that. Let’s be honest, we haven’t had pads on yet, and football is meant to be played with pads,” Schwartz said. “You can have a guy in the right position and look good out here, but if he can’t make that tackle, the scheme doesn’t mean anything. It’s a cliché, but it does come down to blocking and tackling and those kinds of things. That’s stuff that will be determined over the next six weeks. That’s the stuff training camp’s about.”