Does anyone else know that feeling when you’re on a sports team, and you kind of have just been diddling along on the sideline not doing anything, and then suddenly — the coach points at you and before you realize it you’re in the game?
That has to be what Dominique Rogers-Cromartie is feeling right about now.
Despite being a starter for his entire career with the Arizona Cardinals, upon being traded to Philadelphia, DRC rode the bench. The Eagles not only had Asante Samuel entrenched at one of the corner positions, but the team was coming off an earth-shattering free agency period where Philadelphia landed the big fish Nnamdi Asomugha. Going from the best corner on the team by leaps and bounds to being benched behind two veterans was unsettling, and when DRC did see playing time in the slot, he looked uncomfortable and confused.
However, now that Samuel has been dealt away to the Atlanta Falcons, DRC is now back on the outside as a starter.
And evidently, thus far into OTAs, he has impressed his teammates. Around the Eagles training camp, there have been talks about how even if he is beat on a play, he is quick enough to catch back up to the receiver and bat the ball away or even snag a slick interception. For those who are thinking this is really nothing special — DRC has been taking first team reps, against first team receivers. Of course, DeSean Jackson hasn’t been present due to personal reasons, but he was still competing against Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and the plethora of rookies Philadelphia drafted and signed this off-season.
Considering how out of place and dysfunctional DRC looked last season, it’s a massive relief to see that he is succeeding back in his more natural role on the outside. With the talent on the defensive line, the beautiful additions of DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks at the linebacker spots and the drafting of Brandon Boykin to play nickel corner — Philly’s defense looks nasty.
But the key to the whole shabang is DRC’s success next season (and of course we have to hope and pray that the safety positions work themselves out).
However, if the combo of Asomugha and DRC is able to run seamless press coverage (the preferred defense of both players), it opens the door for heavy blitzing — something the Eagles seemed to shy away from last season. That duo can team-up in the secondary, and even if the safety positions are still rough around the edges, those two may be able to cover up that weakness. But even if the safeties are a liability, DRC and Asomugha should still cause serious problems for opposing quarterbacks, especially if Juan Castillo dials up the blitzes.
Again, this hinges on DRC’s continued success at that outside position. But considering how great he was in Arizona, I’d say we have good reason to think he can handle the pressure.
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