If there is one thing that is for certain in the Eagles' secondary, it is that Darius Slay is starting at cornerback.
Who is starting opposite the three-time Pro Bowl selection has yet to be decided. If Eagles Training Camp has been any indication, the early favorite seems to be third-year pro, Avonte Maddox, as he has taken first-team reps in the spot so far.
Maddox has not procured the accolades that Slay has but has already had a lot put on his plate during his short career. During his rookie season, he was forced to play safety after Rodney McLeod suffered a season-ending knee injury and has played both outside and in the slot at corner. Maddox credits the extra responsibility for helping him see the bigger picture when it comes to the defense.
What he has yet to do, however, is be a full-time starter on the outside. Maddox is helping himself seize the opportunity by putting in an abundance of work, but it also doesn't hurt learning from someone as accomplished as Slay.
For Slay, helping his teammates become better players is just as much part of his job as shutting down the opponent's No. 1 receiver, which means class is in session. Slay is the teacher and Maddox is sitting at the front of the room with his hand raised ready to ask a variety of questions.
Topics such as footwork, splits, and vision are just a few of the many inquiries Maddox has made during their time as teammates, and Maddox has been soaking up the answers like a sponge.
"I'm just trying to learn as much as I can from Slay because he's a great asset to me," Maddox said. "Ever since he came in here, he's been willing to help me no matter what."
Maddox was born and raised in Detroit and watched Slay become one of the best corners in the league while playing for the Lions. Once Maddox was selected by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Maddox reached out to Slay via social media. Slay responded and the two have developed a relationship ever since.
After two seasons of rooting for each other's success from afar, they now get to get to do it as members of the same secondary. However, Maddox is not the only member of the Eagles' secondary who Slay mentors, as his support extends to all of the unit's members.
Whoever starts Week 1 opposite Slay – whether it's Maddox or someone else – Slay will do whatever he can to help make them better.
"My goal is just to make people better. That's how I always play the game," Slay recently told reporters. "If you're not coming into the game and teaching another guy knowledge and making him a better player, then you're not a good teammate and I love to be a great teammate.
"I give off all of the knowledge I know to any of them guys to make sure they become the best because I need them on Sunday."