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‘You Gotta Capitalize’: Eagles Rookie CB Turning Heads


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‘You Gotta Capitalize’: Eagles Rookie CB Turning Heads

  • Updated Aug 3, 2021 at 5:47pm
Zech McPhearson

GettyFourth-round pick Zech McPhearson is fighting for a role in the Philadelphia Eagles' secondary.

Rookie cornerback Zech McPhearson had every right to be upset when the Philadelphia Eagles signed Steven Nelson on July 25. The fourth-round pick was previously in the mix for a starting job in what was viewed as a weak secondary. Now that group could be a legitimate strength in Philly.

McPhearson was flying around the practice field on Tuesday and caused four pass breakups. He’s fast, physical, and never satisfied. Instead of accepting kudos for the four passes he disrupted, McPhearson was fixated on dropping two of them. The Baltimore native thought he could have returned them both for touchdowns.

"I view them as touchdowns if I catch them,” McPhearson said. "That’s two dropped pick-sixes and that’s what? Twelve points off the board and that’s a lot in this league, and whenever you have the opportunity to do that, you gotta capitalize.”

You don’t often hear 23-year-olds talk like that, yet those were his words after the first padded practice. McPhearson wasn’t running with the first-team defense, but the youngster was positioned on the outside making plays. There is a chance he could supplant Avonte Maddox for the nickel job if he continues to impress. And Nelson’s presence has helped him, not hurt him.

"Another vet coming into the room so that’s just another opportunity for me to learn,” McPhearson said. "Steve’s been in the league for a long time so he talks it up with me every day so that’s just more opportunity to learn and become a better ballplayer.”


One thing the rookie will need to adjust to is ticky-tack officiating. McPhearson is not afraid to make contact with receivers, some of those "hand pushes” might draw pass interference flags in the NFL.

"It’s a fine line so you gotta be careful,” McPhearson said. "My mindset is when the ball is in the air I’m the receiver so it’s a fight till the end. It’s 50-50, so it’s whether you want it or not.”

Jalen Reagor Addresses Failed Conditioning Test

Second-year receiver Jalen Reagor has been operating as the top receiver with DeVonta Smith sidelined. He has shown quick wheels and good hands on deep throws as he looks to shake off the "lower body tightness” that slowed him early in camp. That injury won’t be a lingering issue.

"Just training, the beatdown on your legs, running routes, doing everything,” Reagor said of the injury. "That’s just holding myself accountable and taking care of my body.”

Reagor also addressed why he failed a conditioning test to the start the year. Part of that had to do with a close childhood friend being murdered, although the burner from Texas Christian wasn’t making any excuses.

"I just appreciate Coach [Sirianni] holding me accountable for all the things that is going on,” Reagor said. "But that’s all in the past and I’m just looking forward to the future and I’m out on the field now so that’s what I’m pretty much focused on.”

Derek Barnett, Lane Johnson Restructure Contracts

Defensive end Derek Barnett and right tackle Lane Johnson restructured their contracts to free up cap space, per ESPN’s Tim McManus. The moves are for "general cap management reasons” and count only toward this year. Barnett ($10.05 million) and Johnson ($18 million) carried two of the highest cap charges on the Eagles’ roster.



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