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High Hopes for Second-Year CB Zech McPhe
PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles might have their best cornerback trio in years if the first six open training camp practices of the summer mean anything.Darius Slay and James Bradberry look every bit like the Pro Bowl outside CBs their resumes would indicate, and Avonte Maddox has slowly developed into a top 10 slot option. Behind that terrific triumvirate in a cast of thousands (OK, nine to be exact) fighting for what likely will be three more spots on the initial 53-man roster.Of that particular subset, you can feel completely comfortable using a pen with one of them, second-year player Zech McPhearson, the team's fourth-round pick in 2021 who got his feet wet last season with some limited work.Most of McPhearson's limited action as a rookie came when Slay got banged up in a couple of games Kevin Pillar Jersey and then in the Week 18 finale against Dallas when the Eagles rested the majority of their starters with the playoffs already a sured.In all, McPhearson, 24, played 179 defensive snaps, 16% of the defensive total, and finished with 12 tackles and a PBU.Slay, a four-time Pro Bowl selection who is generally regarded as one of the top 10 CBs in the NFL, is a leader Mel Ott Jersey in the locker room and a veteran who enjoys paying it forward after being taken care of by the veterans in Detroit like Rashean Mathis early in his career. Asked for his endorsement of the younger corners on the roster, Slay didn't hesitate."We've been working together this whole offseason and Ive got a lot of high hopes for him, he said of McPhearson. Hes just grinding, working hard."At 31, Slay has even gone a little Jason Kelce by broaching heir apparents to his status as Philadelphia's CB1.Im trying to teach McPhearson everything I know because one of these days hell be taking my position," Slay said. "Thats 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 him.A Texas Tech product via Penn State, McPhearson noted how much having engaged veterans meant to him during his rookie Dereck Rodriguez Jersey campaign."Going into year two I feel like I'm a lot more comfortable," McPhearson told Eagles Today. "I feel like I can play fast now especially coming off of last year learning what Slay and Steve Nelson and Rod Rodney McLeod and Ant Anthony Harris , just all the veterans that we had."I feel very comfortable going into this next year."Scroll to ContinueNelson, who proved to be an ironman as the CB opposite Slay last season, signed with Houston in the offseason only to be replaced by a more talented player in Bradberry, a 2020 Pro Bowl pick with the New York Giants who has been one of the best players in camp thus far."I mean just to have two guys like them, both Pro Bowlers, I mean not a lot of people get the opportunity to learn from two people of that caliber," McPhearson said. "I'm trying to take full advantage of it and be a sponge every day and take something away from them."When training camp began, McPhearson and Mac McCain, an undrafted second-year player from North Carolina A&T who bounced between Denver and Philadelphia last season, were the second-team outside corners behind Slay and Bradberry. From there Josiah Scott was playing caddie to Maddox inside. McCain has mi sed some time with a knee injury, allowing Kary Vincent, Jr. more outside reps to complement his slot skills. Scott has also started to cro s-train at safety.Then you have a highly-regarded undrafted free agent cla s featuring Alabama's Josh Jobe, Clemson's Mario Goodrich, and Josh Blackwell of Duke."I always tell the guys time does two things to you - it promotes you or exposes you." secondary coach Dennard Wilson said when discu sing the bottleneck with his young corners. "So within having time, there's no excuse for us as coaches that no Buster Posey Jersey matter how long the practice, how short you practice, they have to be ready to play."McPhearson is the closest to being ready to play.He was advanced when he came in, Slay said. He was a smart kid coming in and one thing about Zech. Hes not scared to ask questions. He listens.""It's is awesome to see him on Burch Smith Jersey the field," Wilson said before doubling down on Slay's sentiment. "... Zech does a good job of listening and I have one of the best players to be around in terms of helping people and that's Slay. "Slay is outstanding with those young men."In his first NFL offseason, McPhearson made a concerted effort to get bigger and stronger after his first taste of NFL receivers."I definitely say physically, got a lot stronger, gained a lot of weight. I'm running around at like 196 now," McPhearson said.The competition with his fellow second-year players has also forced McPhearson to sharpen his game."It's a good dynamic, a lot of different personalities, a lot of competition going on, so it pushes you every day," he said. "We deep so I mean that's how we like it going into camp. We are all brothers at the end of the day but we all are competing too."