Philadelphia Eagles’ Rasul Douglas finds comfort, opportunity at rookie minicamp
PHILADELPHIA — Rasul Douglas thought for a second, chuckled and shook his head.
A reporter Friday asked if the Philadelphia Eagles’ third-round cornerback had intercepted any passes during the the first day of rookie minicamp. And Douglas expressed a twinge of regret, even if he knew a pick in an introductory practice would have lacked significance.
“Na,” he said, explaining that he didn’t force a turnover. “I should have.”
For Douglas, piling up interceptions is a skill — he led the country with eight last season, his one year as a starter at West Virginia. And now that he’s in Philadelphia, the 99th overall pick in the draft doesn’t want to let his reputation as a playmaker fade, in part because he he wants to secure a key place on the team as a rookie.
Second-round pick Sidney Jones will likely remain sidelined until at least October with an Achilles tear, and the Eagles lack imposing veteran talent at cornerback. That means Douglas, a 6-foot-2 speedster, is in position to jockey for a starting job, with Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson providing the stiffest competition.
Douglas shrugged off the notion Friday that he has more at stake this offseason than any other rookie, but he did say he would like to contribute immediately.
“I think everyone here wants to be a starter,” Douglas said. “So we’re all just competing for a spot. Nobody has a job.”
Douglas appeared pleased with his first steps on the Eagles’ practice field Friday. While he didn’t force a turnover, he said he enjoyed learning from fiery defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who stresses the importance of effort and positive body language to his young players.
After the practice, Douglas said he felt comfortable learning parts of the defense and moving through his first NFL workday.
“Actually, it wasn’t as fast as I thought it would be,” Douglas said. “The way coach installed it to us, the way he talked to us after every play, he slowed it down for us.”
If Douglas remains up to speed when organized team activities begin next week and displays tenacity at cornerback, he’ll improve his chances to earn a starting spot. Mills and Robinson are plausible options to beat out Douglas, but they aren’t untouchable, especially considering Douglas’ size.
The former Mountaineer is easily the biggest Birds’ cornerback at 6 feet, 2 inches and 209 pounds, and he could come in handy against the NFC East’s bigger receivers.
Still, Douglas reiterated Friday that he has an uphill climb toward a large role in the defense as a rookie. He said his draft status or playmaking habits in college won’t help him once coaches begin compiling a depth chart.
“That doesn’t matter anymore,” Douglas said. “College is college. Wherever you were drafted is wherever you were drafted. After you signed a contract, we’re all football players now. We just play football. Nothing else matters that happened previously, before today.”
Perhaps that’s why Douglas felt bugged when he realized he didn’t grab an interception Friday. He’s not using his eight picks at West Virginia to bolster his case for a starting job, so in his mind, he’s building a new resume from scratch.
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