The main focus of these spring practices, for both the offense and the defense, is the passing game. Without pads, emphasizing the running game makes little sense. So while the respective sides of the ball will work on the specifics of run plays here and there, the majority of the time spent on the NovaCare Complex practice field focuses on improving the passing game, from the installation of new plays to the fundamentals of running or covering routes.
As a result, wide receivers and cornerbacks spend a lot of one-on-one time with each other. So when Jeremy Maclin is asked if any of the Eagles cornerbacks have impressed him over the last three weeks, his answer means something.
"DRC has," Maclin said, singling out Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. "I think he's done a phenomenal job to this point. He's pretty much known as a bump-and-run guy, but in this camp obviously you can't do that. So I think him getting the off (coverage) work and being able to read routes the way he does and stuff like that, I think that has definitely helped him and I think he definitely looks good out there."
Rodgers-Cromartie, of course, is returning to his natural outside cornerback position after spending much of the 2011 season learning the nickel cornerback position. The 26-year-old admits that he's back where he belongs.
"It took a couple days (to get back used to it)," said Rodgers-Cromartie. "Even though (outside cornerback) is like home, I spent a year away from it, so basically it's just about getting comfortable, getting back into it and coming out here and grinding."
Meanwhile, Maclin and the rest of the Eagles' offensive firepower is helping Rodgers-Cromartie's immersion back to the outside.
"It helps a lot," he said. "You're out here competing with one another. Our receiving corps has some good guys and then the quarterback, shoot, you're seeing one of the best. So just coming out here and competing every day, it gets your confidence level up."
As Rodgers-Cromartie looks to take his game beyond the Pro Bowl level he attained in 2009, there's one specific area he's looking to improve.
"Basically, just the discipline in my eyes," he said. "I tend to look in the backfield a lot and I'm basically working on my eyes this year."
Helping Rodgers-Cromartie along this offseason is new secondary coach Todd Bowles, whom the typically reserved Rodgers-Cromartie described as a kindred spirit.
"He's like me, laid back," said Rodgers-Cromartie. "He's kind of quiet right now. In the meeting rooms, he explains most stuff to a tee, but as far as just talking and being rowdy, I don't think he's that kind of coach."
That kind of coaching should work well with Rodgers-Cromartie, who eschewed the suggestion that he's on tap to become a vocal leader as one of the veterans on defense.
"I don't talk much," he said. "I just go out there and just play ball, that's it. I'm not going to say too much, I'd rather lead by example than say anything."
With teammates already taking notice of his play thus far, that example may already be making an impression.
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