Rodgers-Cromartie is a starter again, on familiar ground, after last year's experiment with three Pro Bowl-level cornerbacks. With Asante Samuel traded to Atlanta, the door is open for Rodgers-Cromartie to start alongside Nnamdi Asomugha as the Eagles put a different spin on the cornerback spots.
A Pro Bowl player in Arizona, Rodgers-Cromartie found himself in the slot for the first part of 2011 after the Eagles acquired him in a trade with the Cardinals last summer, and then he was in no-man's land as Joselio Hanson took over slot duties with Rodgers-Cromartie nursing a sprained ankle and, finally, back as a starting cornerback when Samuel was sidelined for the final two games with an injury.
It was a rough, up-and-down introduction to Philadelphia for Rodgers-Cromartie. He survived. In the end, he thrived.
And now he is back where he belongs, as a starting cornerback in this league.
"It's mixed feelings with Asante not being here because he is a great player and he was here for a long time," said Rodgers-Cromartie. "At the same time, I'm excited for my situation and for this defense. I am not the same kind of player that Asante is. I rely more on athletic ability and speed. Watching Asante all season, he is a student of the game. He has experience and he knows the game.
"I get a chance to play more and I like that. That's exciting. I know I have a lot of work to do, so that's why I'm here getting after it."
Rodgers-Cromartie never raised a whisper about his playing time last year. Never complained a bit about moving into the slot, where his responsibilities expanded to include gap discipline against the run, blitz calls and a lot more inside traffic. As he enters the final year of his contract, Rodgers-Cromartie sees the opportunity to step back into the game's upper echelon at cornerback.
Let the season begin.
"We finished strong last year and that is something to build on," said Rodgers-Cromartie. "I think we're going to be aggressive and get after it. Whatever they ask me to do, of course I will do it. I felt accepted last year when I got here and that was great. Living here now, I'm adjusted. I'm in a bigger market, a bigger city and a bigger fan base. It's been a smooth adjustment that way.
"We're all looking ahead. Getting DeMeco (Ryans) here, having our new defensive backs coach (Todd Bowles), I can tell he's a smart guy, great guy and he's not going to tolerate a lot. I can't wait to get it started again."
This is the weekend when the rookies come to town and the veterans go to, well, wherever they are going. Rodgers-Cromartie has been a diligent part of the offseason conditioning program and he understands the role he is about to play. The Eagles want to be more aggressive defensively in their coverages. The expectation is that they will play more press coverage, which suits Rodgers-Cromartie fine.
"I like to get up there and disrupt the timing, but it doesn't matter how they play me," he says.
The Eagles are counting on Rodgers-Cromartie in a big way for this season and he is up to the task. After a season of not quite knowing what might happen next, Rodgers-Cromartie is on solid ground again.
NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
- An unofficial count is that the Eagles will have 43 players present this weekend, including a large handful of players in for a tryout. The most prominent "tryout" player is quarterback Jacory Harris, from the University of Miami. He and Nick Foles will handle the snaps the entire camp.
- Nothing new to report on the draft picks. Four of the 9 draft picks have signed and there is absolutely no concern that the unsigned players will remain that way for much longer.
- Among the players at this weekend's camp are players like fullback Stanley Havili, running back Graig Cooper, tight end Brett Brackett, defensive end Maurice Fountain, wide receiver Ron Johnson, offensive linemen D.J. Jones, Zane Taylor and Dallas Reynolds and linebacker/defensive end Monte Simmons.
- I'm not sure of the rules as far as whether the Eagles are allowed to practice 11 on 11, or how often they can have wide receivers run pass routes against cornerbacks -- I think they can, without press coverage -- but this is a teaching camp. Keep that in mind. I'm not jumping to any conclusions one way or the other based on this camp.