Cornerback Nolan Carroll II has been dealing with the transition that all NFL players face upon signing with a new team. As he enters his first season with the Eagles, he's learning the about his new teammates, coaches and city, while also learning a new defensive system and all of the new terminology that comes along with it.
Now into his second week of OTAs, Carroll is getting caught up to speed with the way the Eagles operate, and with the purposely frenetic pace that the team practices at, it's more like catching up to light speed.
"It's been really fast-paced," Carroll said. "It's something that I haven't been used to in a really long time, but as the days have gone on, I've gotten used to it and used to the tempo of everything and just going out and playing fast.
"You just kind of react and I think Coach (Chip) Kelly does that for a reason. He speeds the game up so fast, that when it comes time to play the actual game, everything has slowed down. The first day was just so fast that you couldn't process the receiver lining up. He was just snapping the ball and there it is, and you just kind of had to play the guy. As the days have gone on, stuff has been able to slow down for me, and I'm able to process it much more quickly."
If playing fast is the name of the game, Carroll should have no problem fitting in to the Eagles defense. Standing at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, the fifth-year pro brings a lot to the table, but he values his speed most of all, an aspect of his game that has been strengthened in recent years.
"I think my biggest strengths are that I'm physical, I'm tough, I'm fast and I'm stronger than a lot of people think, but I think my biggest attribute is that I'm fast," Carroll explained. "I had to lineup against the fastest receivers week in and week out. It helped me out that when I was in Miami I was lined up against Mike Wallace I think every day, and that's really what helped me out this past season. Going against him week in and week out, I think that's what really bumped up what I'm able to do from a speed standpoint."
Carroll broke into the NFL with Dolphins as a fifth-round draft pick in 2010, and his playing time increased with each passing season. In 2013, Carroll started 12 games for Miami, intercepting a career-high three passes. The Maryland product now joins a talented group of cornerbacks that includes Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher and Brandon Boykin amongst others.
Just like everyone else on the 90-man roster, Carroll is competing every day to earn a starting spot, and the competition level has benefited the entire group of Eagles corners.
"It's been fun," Carroll said. "Bradley, Cary and Brandon are good guys. Everybody's out there having fun, everybody wants to compete and we're just trying to make each other better. There's no ill will against anybody out there. We're all friends, we're all close together and we're all trying to help each other out. If we see something wrong with a guy's technique, we're trying to correct it. If we see something on film, we all try to communicate just to all get on the same page."
On Thursday, the Eagles agreed to terms with free agent CB Nolan Carroll on a two-year deal. Here are some interesting facts about the Eagles new secondary member ...
Carroll signed with the Eagles in March, just three days into the NFL's free agency period. When the signing was announced, both Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman highlighted Carroll's special teams prowess when talking about the newly acquired defender. Carroll knows what it takes to be a productive special teams players, which is certainly an important skill set in the eyes of the Eagles front office. It doesn't hurt matters that he is reuniting with a former coach from his Dolphins days in special teams coordinator Dave Fipp.
"(The key to playing special teams is) just playing fast and not thinking, because when you're thinking, you're slow," said Carroll. "For me, I was taught well. Coach Fipp was my coach in Miami for a little bit, so he's given me a lot of tools to use on special teams, and the one thing is to play fast, regardless of what the situation might be.
"If you get knocked down, just get back up and cause havoc. That's what special teams is about - wreaking havoc on whatever it might be, whether it's a kickoff or if you're a gunner on a punt getting down and stopping the return for a 1-yard gain and changing field position, or if you're blocking a field goal or a punt, whatever it is to change the momentum of a game, you have the ability to do it."