Ellis Hobbs lives by the Five P's that he has established: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. It is a daily mantra, and with so much riding professionally on this season, Hobbs is leaving nothing to chance. He is a driven man, motivated like at no other time in his career, as he sets his sights not only on earning the starting right cornerback job for the Eagles, but excelling every week.
"I expect great things, so when they come you won't hear me say that it is at all a surprise," he said. "I have attacked this off-season differently. I wanted to be physically ready before the off-season program began, and because of my injury (neck injury that sidelined him for the second half of the 2009 campaign) I had a lot more down time. Starting in early February, as soon as the doctor released me to do physical activity I was on the treadmill, doing pushups, doing sit-ups, anything minimal I could do without a lot of stress on my neck.
"I just feel a lot better this year. I'm prepared. I feel great. I have a picture of myself in my bathroom mirror of when I was coming out of college for the draft. I had that "dawg" in me right there, when I was ready prove myself to anybody and everybody. I feel like I'm at that stage of my career again."
Last year was not pleasant for Hobbs. Not only because of the injury, but because he wanted to be a factor in this defense. He wanted playing time, as does any competitor. But the Eagles had Sheldon Brown starting opposite Asante Samuel, and they just rewarded Joselio Hanson with a long-term contract prior to acquiring Hobbs during draft weekend.
So where did that leave Hobbs, who had been a solid starter for two seasons in New England? It left him, right from the start of the post-draft practices, as a deep cornerback reserve and a kickoff return man, and once Hobbs recognized the situation, well, it was very obvious how disappointed he felt.
"The whole mood and atmosphere just didn't feel right once I got here," said Hobbs. "It was very hard for me last year. Very difficult. I was a big part of the success we had in New England, both as a starting cornerback and on special teams and then I came here my role was minimized. It was very disheartening. It was a blow to my ego. I just tried to be as professional as possible about it. I new we had a lot of talent in one pool, and I was the odd guy out.
"I feel completely different now. I am really excited about my role here."
Brown was traded to Cleveland in the off-season, and the Eagles felt good enough about Hobbs that they didn't address the cornerback position until they picked Trevard Lindley in the fourth round in April. And while there is still competition -- Hanson lined up as a starter in the post-draft camp as Hobbs took part in limited activities, and Lindley impressed with his coverage skills -- Hobbs believes that his talents will shine in the summer and that when September 12 rolls around and the Eagles open the regular season, he will be where he wants to be.
On the field. As a starter. As a big-time contributor.
"That's what I'm aiming for. That is the goal and that is where I know I'm going to be, because I'm ready for that," said Hobbs. "I want people to love me like they did in New England, and you achieve that through hard work and preparation."
Hobbs has an edge about him, a chip on his shoulder. He didn't pay much attention during the draft because, well, he feels the draft wronged him way back when. He was a third-round draft pick in 2005 by the Patriots, but the experience left a bitter taste in his mouth and maybe prepared him for the harsh business side of the game.
"I had a draft moment during my draft that showed me that I would never sit there and hang on to the draft," said Hobbs. "It was ugly. I was taken in the third round in 2005, but I felt I was going in the second round that year. I was talking to the General Manager of the Jets during the second round and he was telling me he was about to pick me, and I'm sitting there watching TV and the name going across the screen wasn't my name. And I'm talking to the GM!
"So he puts me on hold, and then comes back and tells me they are going to take me later in the second round. Well, they took a kicker (Mike Nugent) instead. I was like, 'What is this all about?' After that, I was pretty much done with the draft."
This is, truly, a second beginning for Hobbs as an Eagle. The neck injury -- the C6-C7 disc -- is all good. Blue skies are ahead for Hobbs, who is intent on re-establishing himself as a good, quality starting cornerback in this league at a position that is going to be in the spotlight when training camp rolls around.
"It's exciting to have this opportunity. I think I've proven myself to the organization about how dedicated I am to be the guy there and they have been great about things and I am approaching every day trying to get better," said Hobbs. "I feel back to normal now. I feel great. I'm ready to go after it."