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Darius Slay reflects on being the 'older brother' in the cornerback room

Darius Slay
Darius Slay

One of the great many questions you hear at this time of the year regarding rookie Eagles is, "How is so-and-so coming along and what do you expect from him this season?"

The answer isn't as cut and dried as you think, because at this point – just a couple of months into their time with the Eagles – rookies' heads are swimming with information overload, anxiety, and energy.

It is a step-by-step process, and that's why – among many reasons – it's helpful that the Eagles have veterans like Darius Slay and James Bradberry at a cornerback position with an influx of youth.

Last year, the Eagles drafted Kelee Ringo and added Mekhi Garner, Mario Goodrich, and Eli Ricks after the NFL Draft. This season they drafted Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean in Rounds 1 and 2, respectively, and then signed Shon Stephens in the post-NFL Draft period.

And so, the process begins.

"That's the main thing, just teaching them how to be a pro," said Slay, a team captain. "I was talking to them, letting them know 'I'm always here for y'all. Anything y'all need from me, I got ya.' I want to give them a blueprint of everything to make sure they succeed at this level. That's my job to do. That's what I've always been brought up to do.

"I'm an older brother to all the siblings."

This is part of the Eagles Way, and it happens at every position because, hey, this the culture of the football team, of the organization. It is particularly crucial this year at cornerback, where the Eagles are loaded with youth and talent and depth and, wow, it is going to be interesting to see who makes the final 53-man roster.

The rookies know that they have a lot to learn. Every step is a new one. Every experience is their first at the NFL level. Having veterans to lean on is incredibly beneficial.

"I'm just starting out and I have a lot to learn, a long way to go," Mitchell said. "I plan on learning as much as I can from those guys."

"It's always been my duty to lead in an example way and give them directions," said Slay, who said he sees "a great talent" in Mithcell and that DeJean "is very athletic with a lot of talent."

Coaches and general managers always want position groups to get after it and push each other, and Slay sees the same thing at cornerback – a competitive room that will bring out the best in each player.

Iron sharpens iron.

"We're all here to compete," Slay said. "That's what I told the room. We're all here to help everyone and get better. It's not like anybody is hating on each other or anything like that. We're all here for each other. We're all family at the end of the day."

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