It was in Roxborough, a small neighborhood in Northwest Philadelphia, where 22-year-old Rasheed Bailey started chasing his dreams – and he hasn't stopped since.
Bailey, who was a star wide receiver on the Delaware Valley University football team, is approaching the most important game of his career on Thursday against the New York Jets. As one of the players who will see a lot of playing time during the game, Bailey knows what is at stake especially since the team must cut the 75-man roster to 53 by 4 PM on Saturday.
"It's going to mean a lot to me. But, at the same time, I'm treating it like a regular game. It's just a game. I can't get too high, can't get too low," Bailey said on the Eagles Insider Podcast. "It's all about just going out there and doing your job. That's what I'm looking forward to."
The Philadelphia native who used to sit in the seats at Lincoln Financial Field is now fighting to be a member who plays on the team. The outside pressures have been extraordinary on Bailey, but he has learned how to approach everything with a steady mindset.
"First and foremost, I love this city. This city is amazing. It was tough growing up here but now I'm starting to see the city from a whole different side. I'm starting to see how much these fans really love this game," he said. "The respect and the love and support that I'm getting, you know you get some negative things, but at the same time, it's mostly love. I love this city for doing that and for being behind me and rooting for me. It's an amazing feeling."
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Bailey, who has 70 yards on eight receptions this preseason, remembers exactly how he felt walking out on the field for the first time and seeing all the fans around him.
"Speechless. I got out there and for a second, I felt myself looking up instead of looking down and I remember when I was in that stadium one day watching the game and I was sitting next to my friend and I said, 'Man, I can play here. I can play this game,'" he said. "Slowly but surely, I'm looking up, playing it and it's a true testament. It's a true story, I've worked hard for this and I'm not saying I deserve this but I'm saying I've worked hard and if God keeps blessing me with this opportunity, I won't let him down."
A free agent following the 2015 NFL Draft, Bailey signed with the Eagles and has never looked back. All of the obstacles he had to overcome throughout college didn't matter anymore because it was time for him to focus on the next step of his life.
"It was tough and the process was long, it was definitely hard. I remember when they came to see me during the season, about three teams came to see me, and it was tough. I was fighting an uphill battle," he said. "I've been fighting an uphill battle ever since I've been here and every chance I get, it's all about, can I keep surprising them by my play? Can I keep doing those things consistently to make them keep looking at me and not just peeking over at me?"
Bailey did not come from a Division-I athletic program and is thankful that he has been given a chance to prove what kind of player he is.
"The things I did in college and the things that I did to prepare, I probably didn't have the best numbers coming out and things like that on Combine Day and Pro Day, but they saw something in me," Bailey said. "They gave me an opportunity after the draft and I'm here now and I'm here to keep proving myself and to keep doing what I'm doing."
As a rookie, there is a lot of criticism that comes from the internet and social media, but, for someone from the area, friends and family let Bailey know everything that is said and written about him. In order to keep his head in the game and focus on what really matters, which is making the roster, Bailey has learned how to get rid of the negativity in his life.
"I've been doing a great job of blocking things out because I'm on a mission. My purpose is to play this game. My purpose is to affect people and the more that I can keep playing this game, the more I can affect people and I'm happy to still be here and to keep motivating people to do better in what they're doing even if it's just a regular job. I want to be that guy that can give hope and I'm doing a good job right now and I hope I can continue," he said.
On the Eagles Insider Podcast, make sure to check out:
Three-And-Out: Chris McPherson and Fran Duffy recap the win over the Packers.
Enemy Intel: A look at the roster battles in the spotlight vs. the Jets.
Game Time: Playoff predictions. Who will win the NFC East?
Mailing It In: Your questions including ranking the backup quarterbacks in the division.
Each week, Fran Duffy and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell discuss the X's and O's of team strategies and philosophy, giving fans a more in-depth perspective of the game. In the latest edition of the Eagle Eye in the Sky Podcast, the two chat about defensive pressure schemes and the ways teams break down protection in the passing game.
While the conversation centered on more broad concepts, they did touch on the Eagles and defensive coordinator Bill Davis, especially when speaking about nickel and dime packages.
"More and more teams in the NFL are playing with six defensive backs, dime, and the Eagles did a lot of that last year," Cosell said. "We'll see how this season progresses based on how they see their personnel, but we saw last year as the season progressed, and it was Nolan Carroll who was actually kind of the dime safety/linebacker last year, if he ends up starting on the outside then obviously he's not going to be that guy. But, it's just a great way to do it because you enhance the concept with speed."
The two also opened up talks about the progression of zone blitz concepts. Cosell and Duffy highlight that in today's game, defenses can successfully rush with four guys because of the fact that all defensive coordinators understand their opponent's offense.
"Now we've seen over the years with the evolution of these zone blitz concepts, sometimes you'll see a team rush with four and get someone in clean or get the matchup they want on a back with just four, and as I said it's not four defensive linemen," Cosell said. "It's a linebacker and a safety as part of the four, and that's where we've come full circle. That comes down to the fact that you understand how the team will protect, how the offense can protect and you can attack that protection, even with rushing just four. Bill Davis does a lot of this kind of stuff."
Also on the Eagle Eye in the Sky Podcast:
- Two-Technique with safety Chris Maragos at the 27:00 mark
- Saturday Scouting with Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net at the 32:00 mark.
To get Fran and Greg's insights every week with no work on your end, make sure to subscribe wherever you download podcasts.