Each day is a new experience for Jalen Carter, the Eagles' first, first-round draft pick in 2023. The defensive tackle is a player who has the world watching him and who has flashed every step of the way.
Right tackle Lane Johnson says, "I've been very impressed with him from Day 1. I think he has tremendous talent, tremendous ability, and he plays hard every down." Center Jason Kelce has talked about Carter's strength and burst. Other teammates playing alongside and against him have been impressed with his performance to this point in camp.
For his part, Carter has gone about his business professionally and earnestly. He has worked hard to combine his talent with the requisite technical skills needed to have success at the NFL level. Carter knows he can't get by on just being bigger, faster, and stronger than the man across the line of scrimmage from him, so he has to master the little things.
The little things become the big things that define just how good a young player like Carter can become. He said he used a lot of finesse in college and has since been incorporating more strength into his repertoire.
The result: Progress, development, trust from the coaching staff.
"I just think he keeps growing and taking steady, incremental steps to keep growing and developing as a player and as a person," Defensive Coordinator Sean Desai said. (Defensive Line] Coach (Tracy) Rocker is doing a tremendous job developing that way. We're continuing to stay on him with the details. He knows that he's got to keep refining those. I think he's taking ownership of that and he's growing."
Check out the best images from Training Camp, presented by Independence Blue Cross, as the Eagles whittle the roster to 53 and prepare for the 2023 season.
It's understandable that we are all peering into the profile of Carter and trying to gain a sense of where he is in his development and what he could be in September and beyond because, for the most part, he hasn't seen much action in the preseason games – just two snaps against Baltimore and seven last week against Cleveland. He had an impressive move at Baltimore, swiping aside guard Ben Cleveland and bearing down on quarterback Josh Johnson, forcing a hurried throw and a drive-ending incompletion.
Other than that, Carter has done his work in Training Camp sessions and in the combined practices with Cleveland last week.
"I'm pleased with where I am," he said. "Just working to get better every day. I feel like I've been doing alright. I'm not a complete-grown product yet. I feel like I've got a lot of work to do."
That's the standard answer, the baked-in team mentality and it's the right approach to take.
"I learn a lot every day from Coach Tracy (Rocker) and from the veterans on this team," Carter said. "That's just how I'm going about my business."
The Eagles have a deep group at defensive tackle, so it's going to be interesting to see how it all plays out when the regular season begins. First, though, is Tuesday's joint practice against Indianapolis, and Carter is likely to take a good number of reps. Thursday is the preseason finale and we don't yet know Head Coach Nick Sirianni's plans for playing time in that game.
Carter is taking it all in stride, handling everything the Eagles throw at him.
"I love it. I know I'm getting better and I'm working hard," he said. "The guys are teaching me a lot. In this league, you have to be at your best because everyone here has made it to the highest level."
Soon, we will see the plan for Carter and how much he fits into the defensive equation. For now, his work is largely done away from the preseason glare and has been more concentrated to the field work at the NovaCare Complex, focusing on all the parts of the game that the Eagles hope will come together to make Carter everything they think he can be.