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July 25, 2017

Eagles will have open competition at cornerback, may look for outside help

Heading into training camp, there was no mistaking that the biggest question mark on the Eagles roster was at cornerback. Second-round pick Sidney Jones won’t be on the field for at least a good portion of the 2017 season (and maybe all of it), which places a ton of pressure on third-round pick Rasul Douglas and second-year player Jalen Mills.

The Eagles cornerback situation wasn’t great last season either, but they did little to replace the starters they let go (Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll). So really, it wasn’t too surprising when Doug Pederson volunteered that the Eagles could be looking for outside help in the secondary.

“It’s a position that we continue to look even outside as we do for every position,” Pederson said. “But we’re going to continue to look and try to bring guys if we can and just create as much competition at that spot. Obviously, it’s a spot we’re going to keep our eye on throughout camp.

“For now, it gives a couple of our younger guys, Jalen Mills and guys like that, a chance to get in here and get better reps.”

In addition to Douglas and Mills, Ron Brooks, Aaron Grymes, Patrick Robinson, C.J. Smith, Randall Goforth, and Jomal Wiltz are the other plays listed a cornerback on the Eagles roster.

On Tuesday, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz admitted that there is an open competition at corner unlike many of the other positions on his defense such as defensive tackle, linebacker, or safety.

“We’re going to have to keep an open mind and let it play,” Schwartz told reporters on Tuesday. “I think if we close that competition too soon, I don’t know if we serve the team the best way. Let the chips fall.”

In dealing with a fairly young group, Schwartz says he sees talent but also inconsistency from the Eagles defensive backs.

“I don’t think we have anybody that doesn’t have a chance, but they’ve all had days where they look like rookies,” he said. “And that’s sort of the nature of the game. They’re going to have to put those inconsistencies behind them.”

Perhaps one veteran target that the Eagles could try to acquire in a trade is Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller, a former first-round pick who some are projecting to not make the 53-man roster in Chicago.

We dreamed up a couple of fake trades for Fuller (one, two) in the offseason, but regardless of what happens there, the Eagles will need their cornerbacks to hold up if they have any playoff aspirations. At the very least, the position can’t be a disaster.

How that happens is anyone’s guess, but just like Schwartz said, we’ll start to get some answers in training camp.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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