Part of the beauty of every Philadelphia Eagles training camp comes with there being two dynamics that are working in conjunction even though it seems like they should be in opposition to one another. Players are competing with one another while working together towards a common goal.
Rookies and young players are doing all that they can to earn jobs while competing versus the veterans who are certain to make the roster, but in some cases, the old guys are asked to teach those same rookies, guys who will eventually replace them.
Have you ever had to train someone to do a job that you felt should have been your own? The same dynamic occurs in an NFL locker room, but in the case of the Eagles, if second-year man Zech McPhearson goes on to enjoy a career that mirrors the one we’ve seen produced by Darius Slay, the Birds might be in business.
An Eagles star weighs in on what we hope is a star in the making.
Following the close of the Philadelphia Eagles’ second practice of training camp, Slay had a lot to say about second-year man Zech McPhearson. Thank NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Reuben Frank for the quote.
"We’ve been working together this whole offseason and I’ve got a lot of high hopes for him. He’s just grinding, working hard… I’m trying to teach him everything I know because one of these days he’ll be taking my position. That’s the goal for me as a veteran guy. I want a younger guy to be the next me or even better, so my goal is to keep working (with) him."
McPhearson was Philadelphia’s selection during Round 4 of the 2021 NFL Draft, the 123rd selection overall. Some place him fourth on the Eagles’ depth chart at the cornerback position, behind Slay, James Bradberry, and Avonte Maddox. He appeared in 16 games as a rookie, making one start. 16 tackles and a pass breakup were the results. The hope is he can make the leap this season.
Breaking up what would have been a nice toss from Jalen Hurts to DeVonta Smith on the second day of Eagles training camp practices was a nice step in that direction. Had Smith come down with the ball, it would have been one of the plays of the day. Zech made sure it was only an incompletion.
Eight Eagles training camp practices remain. By the time we reach the preseason, the play McPhearson made during the second will long be forgotten, but it’s one he’ll build on throughout the 2022-2023 season. Thankfully, he has some great veteran teammates to lean on.
Perhaps, the man known as ‘Big Play’ said it best.
"I had a lot of things to choose from what kind of player I wanted to be, but I saw the guys that I looked up to do it this way and I did it how they did it and they were successful players and now I’m year ten… I wouldn’t be in year ten without guys like Rashean Mathis, Glover Quin, Chris Houston, (and) Louis Delmas, guys that played a long time in this league. I would not be in year ten without those guys because they showed me how to take care of my body and be a professional."
Competition and climbing the mountain together are two components that will always exist in Eagles training camps for as long as they are held. We’ve identified the keys to McPhearson’s success, continued effort and being a sponge. We’ll see how ready Zech McPhearson is to rake the torch this season. Something tells us that he’ll be okay.