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Carroll: There's No Place Like This

Posted Mar 18, 2016

Cornerback Nolan Carroll did his due diligence as a free agent. He was patient during the process, doing everything that he could to ensure that he found the right place for his services. Part of that process was visiting with a rival NFC East team, something that ultimately led him back to where he felt like he’s belonged the whole time,

“It was just weird,” Carroll said of his visit to the Dallas Cowboys. “Just being here, playing here and knowing that I played against those guys couple times, it kind of felt weird to be in that facility and see some of those players, guys that I have played against. I just felt like it wasn’t the fit right now. I felt like my fit was here in Philadelphia.”

Carroll officially signed his one-year contract with the Eagles on Friday, returning for his third season in midnight green. His second season in Philadelphia ended abruptly with a broken fibula in Detroit on Thanksgiving, but the veteran cornerback is well on his way to recovery.

“I’m feeling good. I’m feeling healthy,” Carroll said. “Every single day for me is just about improving. Dr. (Robert) Anderson has cleared me to go about how I feel. Every single day, push your limit, and when you feel something kind of tailor it back, but as far as doing everything, I’m cleared to do that. There’s really no point right now in me rushing anything to kind of set myself back, but I’m able to do everything that I can do.”

Up until his injury, Carroll was having one of the strongest seasons of his NFL career. A year after serving as the Eagles’ dime backer, the University of Maryland product won the starting corner job and was perhaps the most consistent one on the Eagles roster, intercepting two passes, including a pick-six against the Giants in Week 6.

In 2016, Carroll will take the field under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Carroll is very confident in his ability to fit into Schwartz’s scheme, thanks in part to Cory Undlin still being in place as the Eagles’ defensive backs coach.

“The bottom line with our defense is to play in man coverage,” Carroll explained. “A lot of the defensive schemes aren’t really different. It’s really just the terminology. I really feel like Coach Schwartz and this scheme is really just going to be aggressive, so the guys on the outside, we have to be able to hold up on our own.

“Having Coach Cory there, he knows the mentality. He knows what to expect from us, we know what to expect from him, so we’re going to go out and do just that. We’re going to compete and hold our own out there, and it’s all about just playing with great technique, and I feel like he’s one of the best teachers in the NFL at doing that and always harping on technique to make us better.”

With the trade of Byron Maxwell to the Miami Dolphins, Carroll and second-year pro Eric Rowe serve as the most likely players to fill in the starting cornerback roles as of right now, but the Eagles also bolstered the position through free agency, bringing in Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks, two players who played for Schwartz with the Buffalo Bills.

“What I do know is that it’s a competition,” Carroll said. “I know they’re going to leave that open for everybody to compete. Nobody that comes in just has a spot that’s set in stone. Our coaches do a good job of telling us that, and it’s a wide-open type of competition. Really that’s what it’s about. That’s what I thrive on, and I feel like competition makes the whole group better.”

After spending his first four seasons in Miami, Carroll has been a steady force for the Eagles on both defense and special teams. Over that time, he’s proven himself as a player, but he’s also gotten to know what the City of Philadelphia and the Eagles’ organization are all about, and he’s ready to once again give everything he has for the new place he calls home.

“The past two years have been great, honestly,” Carroll said. “Like I’ve said, I’ve never been a part of anything like this. I’ve never been a part of a city like this where they care about the team so much and they care about the players. It’s the same way for me. I care about the city. I care about the players on this team. That’s why I came back.

“I felt like there’s no other place like this and I feel like every single week when we go out there, we always give it our all. That’s what my mindset has always been - blood, sweat, tears and bones - I’m going to do it every single snap when I can and every single game when I can.”

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