Welcome to the NFL.
Thursday’s preseason opener against Green Bay will be an opportunity for the Eagles’ rookies to truly prove that they belong in this league.
First-round pick, defensive end Derek Barnett, aims to be the most composed newcomer out of the bunch. His confidence in his technique, as well as his effort on every single play, assures him that he’ll be more than ready for his first NFL moment.
Are you looking forward to your first preseason game?
"Yeah, I’m looking forward to it just because it’s another chance to play a game. So every time I step on the field I’m looking forward to it and I’m excited," he said. "My whole thing when I step on the field is make sure my technique is good, play with maximum effort, and everything else will control itself."
What have the veterans told you in preparation for Green Bay?
"We’ve really just been focused on us getting better every day at practice," Barnett said. "We haven’t really been focused on Green Bay. We’ve been focused on getting better as a team and working our own craft, and when the game comes, if we do what we’re supposed to do everything else falls into place."
In the past few practices, you’ve moved from right to left defensive end. How have you adjusted?
“I feel I’m adjusting well. It’s just me getting rushes on the left side, Chris (Long) getting rushes on the right because during the game, when the bullets start flying you know, subbing in and out you may hop in, you may go in on the right, you may hop in on the left one play, so it’s just us getting some reps on both sides and getting better at both,” Barnett said.
Have the coaches indicated which side they will most likely play you on?
“It was more of a vet being like, ‘Get some reps over here.’ I said, ‘All right.’ Chris has played 10 years in the league, he told me to go over there and get some reps over there," Barnett said. "What am I going to say to him?”
Third-round pick Rasul Douglas understands the magnitude of a good first impression and plans on making plays come Thursday night. The East Orange, New Jersey native has never been to an NFL game before, but in his preseason debut he’ll be matched up against a few friends lining up on the offense for Green Bay.
How are you feeling heading into your first game?
“Just anxious. Just ready to play. I feel like I put a lot of things out there," Douglas said. "I learned a lot of things, so I’m just ready to display it.”
Given the questions you've been asked regarding the concern at cornerback, what are you most looking to prove?
“I think as a group we’re just trying to prove that we have a good secondary and that we can be legit,” he said.
Any pregame rituals?
“No, I don’t have any pregame rituals at all," Douglas said. "Just listen to music and just be ready to play.”
Wide receiver Mack Hollins has been one of the more impressive rookies during this year’s Training Camp. He earned some reps with the starters during practice on Monday and took full advantage.
How was working with the starters?
“It’s always a good experience to work in with the one O-Line, with Carson (Wentz), and with all the starters because in my mind I have to work like that. That’s the end goal. Be a starter," Hollins said. "So getting reps with them is always important and you have a different speed for the game and you run a little bit more advanced offense compared to the other guys. Carson can signal and do a lot of different things, so it was a great experience to be in there with them.”
What will you be most looking forward to showing against Green Bay?
“Really just my knowledge of the playbook and willingness to play hard every play is really what I’m trying to prove," he said. "No loafs and no mental errors.
“I’m really looking forward to it. It’s the first time you can go against people who aren’t your teammates, so you can really go full throttle and don’t have to let up."
As part of a talented receiver corps, what advice have the veterans given you?
“Really, it’s just the mental part of it. Don’t make mistakes," Hollins said. "I mean you might drop a ball and that happens, that’s the game, but lining up wrong or running the wrong route is completely on you. You don’t have to do those type of things so they just told me mentally be prepared and be ready to go. Go all out and do your best for what you can do when you’re in there.”
Will you be wearing gloves?
"We’ll see. Temperature-wise and how I’m feeling, but as of right now probably not. But we’ll see," he said.
Donnel Pumphrey stands as the smallest newcomer among his peers at 5-9, 176 pounds. However, after turning heads during the first week of practice with his quickness and ability to run routes and catch the ball, Pumphrey missed a handful of practices due to a hamstring injury.
How prepared do you feel for Thursday’s matchup?
“Mentally I’m very prepared. Physically, I mean I’m not up to par yet and I’m not really up to go full speed right now, but as far as getting the plays down I got all that stuff down," Pumphrey said. "It’s really just getting my body right and getting my legs back under me.
“It definitely is a dream come true because it’ll be my first professional game and it doesn’t get any better than playing in a stadium like Lambeau.”
Have the coaches told you about playing time?
“Honestly, I have no idea on that type of stuff," he said. "I really just come ready to play every time I’m out here.”
What’s the thing you’re most looking to prove?
“Really that I can play at this level. That’s the thing that’s on my mind and I mean obviously I’ve always been doubted. So just proving my coaches right and the reason why they picked me,” Pumphrey said.
Corey Clement is one of 11 undrafted rookies debuting for the Eagles on Thursday, but the 220-pound running back has done plenty to distinguish himself throughout Training Camp, particularly during the absence of running back LeGarrette Blount.
What were your thoughts leading up to Green Bay?
"Leading up to it I just feel so prepared, but at the end of the day you can’t prepare enough," Clement said. "So I’m going to go back, do more film study, review throughout this week, and see what I can do best to well prepare myself for this game coming up in Green Bay."
In your mind, what are you most looking forward to proving?
"That I can be a guy who can be counted on for each play especially on offense and special teams, so whenever my number's called upon I just got to be ready. Just stay calm and collected and play my best football," he said.
What kind of advice have you received from the veterans like running back Darren Sproles?
"Stay prepared. Don’t get caught up in the moment too much and what he means by that is to stay in your playbook. Even if you do have a good day always keep preparing, you know sharpening your iron and just being ready for each and everything that you have to be accounted for," Clement said.
Do you have any pregame rituals?
"I kind of just space out. I got my own playlist and I have to listen to that before I even get out to the field and you know when I step onto the field, I’m locked in. I’m not Corey anymore, I’m a different football player and after the game, I can be myself again but on the field, you have to become a different monster," he said.
You played at Wisconsin although you're from New Jersey. Any family coming to the game?
"Yes, my dad is already out there and he’s excited to see me," Clement said. "My mom is going to stay back and watch it on TV. I went to school in Madison, Wisconsin so I’ve got some friends coming up to see me play my first preseason game so it’s going to be cool."