Elijah Qualls is still trying to catch up.
The defensive tackle who missed all of the Organized Team Activities in the spring because of a rule that does not permit rookies to attend NFL facilities until their college class graduates says he is halfway there.
“Schematically, yes,” Qualls said when asked if he’s caught up from the missed time. “Technique-wise, I’m always working on it. There is always something to work on. The goal is to be consistent and I’m not where I want to be yet.”
The sixth-round draft pick from Washington flashed in Thursday night’s preseason opener in Green Bay and is ready for Round 2 on Thursday against Buffalo at Lincoln Financial Field. He’s in a 53-man roster battle along the deep and talented defensive line.
Trying to get up to speed is oh, so difficult in the heat of Training Camp and the preseason. Interestingly, a groin injury Qualls suffered early in camp that sidelined him for the better part of a week actually, he feels, advanced his progress.
“When I got here, sitting there and watching the older guys play, not only on film but in person, that really helped me. It allowed me to sit back and comprehend not only what coach (defensive line coach Chris Wilson) is asking, but why,” Qualls said. “Being able to take that much more time to literally mentally comprehend it, that really helped. It ended up being a blessing in disguise for me.
“Now I know what the technique is supposed to look like and I know when and where to play the technique. It’s easier said than done, especially when you’re out there and the live bullets are flying.”
Qualls figures to see a lot of action against Buffalo as the Eagles continue to evaluate the roster. He had 30 snaps on defense at Lambeau Field and was credited with three solo tackles, one for a loss. Not a bad start.
He wants more against the Bills.
“I thought I played pretty well. I progressed. The tempo wasn’t a problem for me at all. I felt like practice is a little bit faster sometimes, but there were some times when we were on the field during long drives,” Qualls said. “I need more consistency with my technique. I know what the look is going to be. I know what I’m supposed to do. I just have to break some of my natural habits and play exactly as coach is asking me to play.”