Jalen Mills Will ‘Probably’ Replace Leodis McKelvin

The rookie seventh-round pick appears set to start against the Bears if Leodis McKelvin is out.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Jalen Mills, Robert Griffin III and Nigel Bradham. (Jeff Fusco)

If Leodis McKelvin is unable to play against the Bears because of his left hamstring injury, Jalen Mills would likely replace him at outside cornerback opposite of Nolan Carroll, according to Malcolm Jenkins.

“I think right now Ron [Brooks] will probably stay at the nickel [and] we’ll bring Jalen Mills on the outside like we did at the end of this past game,” Jenkins said. “If anything happens from there, we’ve got some versatile guys that we can move around, whether that be Jaylen Watkins, myself or Ron. All of us have played the nickel, played corner and safety. I think that versatility gives us a little bit of comfort knowing we can keep all of our packages up and just kind of interchange guys here or there.”

McKelvin did not practice on Thursday, and while he said he thought he could play in Chicago if he didn’t practice on Friday, that does not seem likely. Doug Pederson previously said if an injured player doesn’t practice on Friday, there’s a “good chance” he won’t play in the game that week. However, McKelvin will have some extra time to recover because the Eagles are playing on Monday Night Football.

Mills, a rookie seventh-round pick, said he’s prepared to play because of the help he’s received from Carroll, Jenkins and McKelvin. Both Jenkins and McKelvin expressed confidence Mills could handle a starting role.

“He’s ready. He looks forward to the challenge. The biggest thing is just keeping the ball in front of you. You got to make these receivers earn every catch,” Jenkins said. “Alshon [Jeffery], the one thing he does good is he goes up and makes acrobatic catches. If he’s got to do that, hats off to him. He’s gonna make some NFL catches; that’s what he does. All of those plays that are out there to make, just make them. I think he’s ready for the challenge. I’m sure we’ll know where [No.] 17 is at on every snap, but we’re not worried about the matchup.”

Mills expects Jay Cutler to go after him early and often because he is a rookie, as the Browns did when Mills initially replaced McKelvin on Sunday. According to Jenkins, Mills’ biggest asset to counteract that is his confidence.

“I think that’s the biggest thing on the outside as a corner is you got to have really, really tough skin and a lot of confidence. The rest will kind of come as you get more and more reps, you get more experience. But the one thing he showed up with and that nobody had to coach him on was confidence and the ability to bounce back,” Jenkins said. “He’s got really thick skin. He’s a perfectionist when it comes to his technique and wanting to compete. I think those things are going to help him out. He’ll learn tips and things like that from formations and splits as it goes, but just his willingness to compete and his confidence and his own ability will bode well.”