That's what cornerback JaCorey Shepherd learned during his rookie year in the NFL. The promising sixth-round pick was in the mix to be the team's nickel cornerback until he suffered an ACL injury during a = Training Camp practice. Shepherd was able to turn the injury into a positive and use the year on the sidelines as an opportunity to learn the ways of the NFL, a redshirt year so to speak.
"It was very tough. I've been playing tackle (football) since I was five and I've never had an injury where I had to miss a game, let alone a whole season," Shepherd told Dave Spadaro on the Eagles Live podcast. "It was good to sit back and see things from outside-in. I was able to learn the game from a new perspective as far as how to study film, how to watch other guys, the veterans like Nolan Carroll and Malcolm Jenkins to see how they prepare. I was able to take that and use it in many ways while I was on the sidelines."
Shepherd credited defensive backs coach Cory Undlin for keeping him involved in meetings and film study. The rookie was comfortable enough to offer his thoughts on what he saw on tape from other teams' offenses and receivers.
The former Kansas Jayhawk said that his knee "is doing good right now" and that he's "actually pretty close to being able to be full-go, being fully cleared."
He'll have to learn a new defense and the Eagles have added some experienced corners in free agency with Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks. That does not include how the Eagles re-signed Nolan Carroll last week. However, Shepherd is more confident than ever that he belongs in the NFL.
"I definitely feel like I was made to play in this league and be able to do very well," Shepherd said. "I'm just as excited as I'm sure other people are to get out there and I'm finally looking forward to getting out there and playing a real game."
Also on the Eagles Live podcast:
Interview with Howie Roseman (1:53)
Three Questions with Chris Givens (4:10)
Interview with Jordan Matthews (6:45)
Three Questions with Nolan Carroll (13:50)
Press Coverage with Les Bowen and Zach Berman (20:52)
NFL Network analyst Charles Davis joined us on the Journey to the Draft podcast presented by AAA to discuss what the Eagles might do with the No. 8 overall pick next month. First off, Davis likes the message sent to the fans by moving up to get into the top 10.
"I think Howie Roseman has a real plan in mind and is going about executing it," Davis said. "I love getting in the top 10 because Howie's right ... shifting from 13 to 8 doesn't seem like a whole lot but in the case of Philadelphia it tells me they have certain people identified that they really, really like and the only way they could ensure getting one of those that they feel was to get into the top 10."
Who does Davis think could be a target for the Eagles? He discussed two prospects in particular: cornerback Vernon Hargreaves and linebacker Myles Jack.
Davis compared Hargreaves to Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden.
"He isn't the athlete Haden is, but he's a really complete player," Davis said.
As for Jack, Davis said that he's "just special" comparing the former UCLA Bruin to Oakland Pro Bowl linebacker Khalil Mack.
"He plays with an incredible passion and joy," Davis added. "I think Myles Jack has the capability to do everything that you ask of him."
Davis also discussed his list of the top 10 prospects in this year's draft class. Two names who Davis admits he's higher on than other analysts are Alabama defensive tackle Jarran Reed and Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee.
"We undervalue him because of those sack numbers," Davis said of Reed, who is known as more of a run-stuffing lineman. "I think he still has his best pass-rushing still ahead of him."
Lee, meanwhile, is in Davis' eyes the "the prototype of what you're looking for at linebacker."
Davis was told that some NFL teams have a second-round grade on Lee.
"Yeah, I know. I don't," Davis said. "I'm crazy about him."
Also on the Journey to the Draft podcast presented by AAA:
Draft Buzz at 1:10
Pick 6 at 32:45
Unofficial Visit with Malcolm Mitchell at 36:30
Draft Mailbag at 38:00
With free agency wrapping up, the Eagles Insider podcast is set to go on short hiatus while it undergoes a revamp. Although this week's episode was the last until Training Camp, Fran Duffy, Chris McPherson and Alex Smith still had a number of topics to discuss.
Each of the three picked an area of the team's free agency moves to discuss, beginning with the addition of Rodney McLeod to the secondary. Duffy focused on the safety's play in his most recent Eagle Eye article and is thoroughly impressed with the signing.
"I knew a little bit about Rodney McLeod going in," Duffy said. "(NFL Films senior producer) Greg Cosell has been talking very, very highly of him whenever I've talked to him about just safety tandems around the league. He has mentioned that Rodney McLeod and T.J. McDonald may have been the safety duo that no one was talking about. McLeod can do everything."
On that same topic, Smith dove into the secondary as a whole, focusing on the Eagles' new cornerbacks, Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks. Both have previously played under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, and like McLeod, they bring a new attitude and physical play to the team.
"It seems like any player who's played for Buffalo in the last few years has had their most successful season under Jim Schwartz," Smith said. "I don't think that was an accident.
"Getting those guys and having them transition kind of easily back into the defense I think can go a really long way. Another intriguing thing is we really don't know how these players are going to be used just yet. Time will tell how that happens."
While these acquisitions certainly help the Eagles moving forward, the trades that took place as free agency opened may have been even more impactful. McPherson explained that as the Eagles work to form their new identity as a football team, it is important to fill the locker room with players who are truly excited to be part of the organization.
"You want guys who want to be in the building, and no offense to the guys who have moved on in trades, but you just didn't feel that with DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell in particular," McPherson said. "I thought Kiko Alonso would be back just because of his contract, but I think Jim Schwartz probably realized he's not a fit, so they were able to get value for him.
"I think getting those types of attitudes and players out of the locker room when you're trying to rebuild the culture with Doug Pederson was vitally important. Certainly the fact that they got tremendous value for them is outstanding, but I think it's just an addition by subtraction to get guys who don't want to be here out of here and then move on and start fresh."
Also on the Eagles Insider podcast:
Three-And-Out at 1:41
Mailing It In at 16:55
In the late 1990s, a defensive strategy now known as Tampa 2 was popularized by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and this week on the Eagle Eye in the Sky podcast, Fran Duffy brought in Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy, who is credited with creating the scheme, to discuss it.
Dungy quickly noted Tampa 2 truly began with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1972. When Dungy arrived to the team in 1977 as a player, it was the defensive system in place and he quickly learned the principles. From there, the now Hall of Fame coach further perfected the scheme.
During the podcast, Duffy asked Dungy to break down the players' roles in a Tampa 2 defense. Below are Dungy's explanations for the cornerback and safety positions:
"You're playing zone coverage. The corners are responsible for the flat area," Dungy said. "They're going to have to come up and make tackles in the running game and in the short passing game. It's not the type of system where you can rely on just small cover corners. Guys have to be able to make tackles and be physical and be part of the run defense. On the other side of the coin, sometimes a lot of people aren't looking for those types of guys. We could have players that people thought were not fast enough, not quick enough to play man-to-man coverage and they ended up being great players for us."
"The biggest thing is you've got two guys who are going to control the deep half of the field and they have to rely on their pass rush," Dungy explained. "People are going to try to flood that area with three receivers and get people open in the deep zone. What we always said is you have to trust your eyes and read the quarterback. It's up to the front four to not let him pump fake you and reload. You have to go where he's looking and if you do that and you have safeties with good range, who can cover a lot of ground, then they can make the plays in that deep area, 20 yards up the field. They can cover half the field, but it takes guys with good instincts and good ball skills to do that."
Also On The Eagle Eye in the Sky podcast:
Chalk Talk with Tony Dungy at 1:41
Two-technique with Mike Quick at 23:18
Saturday Scouting at 27:14