Jim Schwartz keeps insisting there’s open competition for the second cornerback spot opposite Darius Slay.
“You’re going to see a lot of different players (competing),” Schwartz said Tuesday.
So far, Avonte Maddox is the only one competing.
If there really is an open competition between Maddox and former 2nd-round pick Sidney Jones for CB2, it hasn’t materialized.
It’s only two days with pads, but when opening day is 26 days away and most of the offseason was wiped out, two days is a lot.
Maybe Jones will start getting 1st-team reps on Wednesday, but judging by the first two practices, everything points to Maddox as the Eagles’ opening-day outside cornerback opposite Slay.
Maddox has started 18 games in his first two NFL seasons, including three playoff games.
He started 11 games as a rookie, including four at safety when Rodney McLeod was hurt, two in the slot in the middle of the season and then the last five games – including the playoffs – at outside corner alongside Rasul Douglas with both Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby out.
Last year, Maddox made five starts in the slot and the last two games of the season at outside corner with Darby again injured.
So he goes into this year with a lot of experience at a lot of positions but only seven career starts at outside corner.
“I’ve been playing (outside) corner in college for four years straight so it’s not really new,” Maddox said. “Just getting back to the flow of it from moving from the inside and safety. I’m very used to it, once I get the feel back.”
The coaches are facing a challenge balancing the need to get the starters ready for the rapidly approaching regular season with making sure everybody gets enough reps to be ready.
Douglas is the most experienced of the CB2 candidates with 18 career starts and 1,549 reps. Jones has started eight games with 643 defensive reps. Maddox has played 1,057 snaps, although probably less than 500 outside.
“We have seen the last few years how important it is to plug players in and still have a level of success,” Schwartz said. “So we have always tried to do that during training camp, anyway, just sort of throw different groups out there and mix-and-match guys. We’ll have a good chance to get everybody an opportunity and be able to make decisions in a few weeks.”
Maddox said he doesn’t look at himself like a starter and he isn’t thinking in those terms.
“Every day, we’re out there competing,” Maddox said after practice Tuesday. “We have a great group and we go out and compete. We’re always working to help each other get better. Right now, it’s not about whose position it is, it’s just about going out getting better each and every day and working as one unit because everyone’s going to play no matter what’s going on. We’ve already seen that from the last three seasons. So right now we’re just friendly competing and having fun and teaching and learning.”
At 5-foot-9, Maddox doesn’t have ideal outside corner size, but he’s tough and physical, he can leap, he’s around the ball, and he’s fast.
And he’s already picked up one fan in Slay, the three-time Pro Bowler.
“I’m trying to learn as much as I can from Slay because he’s a great asset to me,” Maddox said. “Ever since he came in here he’s been willing to help me no matter what … and teach me as much as I can. He always tells me, ‘I want you to be better than me, way better than me,’ so I’m going to give everything I’ve got.”
And Maddox is going out there every day fighting to win a job he may have already won.
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