Aaron Grymes' early NFL dreams were crushed back in 2013.
After graduating from the University of Idaho, he participated in the Green Bay Packers' rookie minicamp in 2013, but unfortunately wasn't signed to the roster. His position coach in college, Torey Hunter, a former West Coast scout for the Edmonton Eskimos, turned him on to the idea of playing in the Canadian Football League. Grymes took the advice and eventually flourished in his three-year stint with the Eskimos. In 2015, he became both a Grey Cup champion and a CFL all-star. During this offseason, Grymes signed with the Eagles and looks to finally start his NFL career in Philadelphia.
"It's really helped me mature mentally," Grymes said of his time in the CFL. "I've been in a couple of professional camps up there so just (learning) how to take care of my body, how to sleep, how to eat and how to attack the day. Come out here and not be wide-eyed because it's the NFL."
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz spoke highly of Grymes after Day 2 of Training Camp.
"Aaron is a smart player. He's multi-dimensional. He's played outside. He's played nickel. Just because our numbers are low right now, he is playing a little safety, but that's just because he knows what to do," Schwartz said.
"He has shown a good, confident attitude. You can't cover many guys if you're worried about getting beat and he's had that confidence to go up and challenge guys. I think that experience shows. The fact that he has played in a professional league and he's a little bit different than most of the other guys that are out here now because they are just out of college. He does have a little bit more confidence from his professional experience."
Grymes is getting back into the swing of playing football in the U.S. again. In the CFL, the field is noticeably larger, measuring about 10 yards longer and approximately 15 yards wider than an NFL field. There are 12 players on the field compared to the NFL's 11 and any back can move when the ball is snapped, allowing wide receivers to get a running start if they time it correctly. In addition, teams have only three downs to get a first down unlike the NFL's four.
While the veterans received the day off, the rest of the Eagles squad was hard at work on the practice field for their last practice before the entire team returns...
However, it's imperative to remember that it was only just a few years ago when he put the finishing touches on a successful career at Idaho, tallying 248 tackles (174 solo), including 11.5 for a loss, three interceptions, 15 pass breakups, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. When asked if the team was asking him to play differently, Grymes didn't mind acknowledging the situation.
"Yes, if you compare it to Canada." Grymes said. "The receivers get that running start so pretty much everything is different for me really. But I played in the States all my life, so they haven't asked me to do too much different from what I used to do in college. It's just getting used to their language; it's all the same football. I'm just still getting use to the language and some of the techniques they like to play."
The rookie cornerback also looks forward to adjusting to the NFL's accelerated pace. Fortunately, Grymes is accustomed to keeping up. Not only does he have his collegiate football career to lean back on, but he also sports an impressive athletic resume during his time at West Seattle High School. He played on the basketball team and in his junior year he ran track and finished fifth in the State 3A 100 meters while being named the Metro Sound Division Offensive MVP for football. When asked to compare the pace between the NFL and CFL, Grymes admitted there was a disparity.
"It's faster I'll say. The field is smaller than in Canada and the quarterback has a little bit of a better arm. My quarterback in Canada (Mike Reilly) is going to hate that I said that," Grymes teased. "But they have a little bit of a better arm so the ball comes out a bit faster."
To make things even more interesting, the heat has been far from friendly during Training Camp and Grymes took note of it.
"It's hot! It's really hot and I'm from the West Coast," Grymes said. "I'm from Seattle so it'll get hot, but it'll be dry air and you'll get a little bit of an ocean breeze. I feel like I'm swimming when I come out here. Arms wet, face wet, everything. It's hard to breathe out here."
Despite the humidity taking place during the first week of Training Camp, Grymes is solely focused on football and staying in touch with his family. His wife, Hannah, and daughter, Zoey, currently live over 2,000 thousand miles away in Moscow, Idaho and the time difference also poses some issues. However, thanks to the ability to video chat, Grymes stays up to date on the family and what's going on around him.
"I haven't been able to get out yet. I've matured a bit so I stay in my hotel room now. I haven't gotten to witness Philadelphia too much, but everywhere I go my wife looks up the city," Grymes said. "She says there's a lot of stuff to do out here, so I'm sure when we get a little bit of free time I'll probably tour the city and meet some of the great fans out here and have fun."
Grymes will get a taste of covering the team's primary receivers when the veterans take the field Thursday.