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Mays Not Afraid To Help His Competition

Perhaps the most interesting dynamic on the practice field this time of year is the way veteran players are so willing to help out their rookie counterparts, players who serve as competitors for roster spots and playing time.

In a sense, that relationship is built on a pay-it-forward mentality - the veterans remember the help they received as rookies. Plus, as middle linebacker Joe Mays sees it, it's a way to raise the level of competition.

"I was in that same situation a couple years back, so I know what it's like to come in and not know people and not know the system," Mays said. "So more than anything I'm just trying to get used to them, let them get used to me and also teach them some things that I've found out over my years here. But I also still know that it's competition. It's a healthy competition though."

A sixth round pick by the Eagles in the 2008 draft, Mays remembers how difficult it was for him as a rookie.

"I remember coming here and not knowing anything," he said. "Just coming out here and just kind of running around, I didn't really know anything too well. Just trying to get to know the guys. It was just like being a freshman in college all over again."

In the two practices this week, the veteran linebackers were outnumbered by rookies. So Mays and second-year man Moise Fokou spent time imparting their knowledge of technique and scheme on rookies Jamar Chaney, Ricky Sapp and Keenan Clayton.

"As a rookie it's real tough," Mays said. "There's so much stuff that we put in these last couple days and it's a lot of stuff to remember. It's a lot for them to go out there and think and also play."

It was also a tiring couple days for Mays, because he was the only true middle linebacker in camp so he took almost all the reps. But he welcomes that practice because Mays knows that he will have to fight hard to retain his spot on the 53-man roster. In the middle, Stewart Bradley is back to full health and there are several other players with backup potential at the position, including Omar Gaither, Akeem Jordan and Chaney.

"My goal is pretty much to make the team," he said. "I mean they brought in three linebackers and you know we still have five other guys that were here before them so I just have to come out here and prove myself and make the team again."

After Bradley was lost for the season last summer, Mays had an opportunity to grab hold of the starting middle linebacker job, but he ended up only garnering a single start. While the 2009 season didn't work out quite like Mays had hoped, he now has a better understanding of what it takes to make an impact on defense.

"I think it looked alright," Mays said, referring to watching the film of his play from last year. "It's not as good as you think and it's not as bad as you think. I think I did alright. There were some things that I could have done better on and there were some things I did really good, so I'll just continue to work on the good things and fix the bad ones.

"There's a lot of stuff that I could work on, working on my drops, pattern reading, just stuff within the defense. But as the time comes, I'll be able to get through that stuff and just keep it moving."

One area in which Mays did excel last year was on special teams for then-coordinator Ted Daisher. Now that there's a new special teams sheriff in town, Mays is eager to continue that impact.

"I'm always paying attention to coach (Bobby) April, making sure I get everything I need to get," Mays said. "I'm trying to start next year on special teams, I think that will be my role next year so the more you can do, the better you are, so I'm trying to get everything done."

-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 7:36 p.m., May 20

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