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Rookies Set For Monday Night Stage


Chip Kelly has transformed the Eagles one season at a time since he was hired as the head coach in 2013. This year, there were many new additions to the 53-man roster, including four rookies.

Among them are wide receiver Nelson Agholor, linebacker Jordan Hicks and defensive backs Denzel Rice and Eric Rowe. They are all anxiously awaiting the regular season kickoff on Monday against the Atlanta Falcons.

Agholor, the Eagles' first-round draft pick out of USC, made a statement throughout Training Camp and the preseason adding depth to the wide receiver position. Kelly has noticed the type of player Agholor is and recognized his abilities.

"I think Nelson did a really good job in the preseason games. You can see how dynamic he is when the ball's in his hands," he said. "He picked things up really quickly here. He's got a pretty good mind in terms of what we're trying to get accomplished."

As Monday's game quickly approaches, all the hard work that the rookies have put in throughout the last few weeks will finally be showcased, but Agholor gives all the credit to those who helped them prepare.

"We have great coaches and great guys in front of me that show great examples which makes it easier. I get excited every time I hear it," Agholor said. "This is my team now and this is my community and the team I play for."

Watching his teammates play on Monday is something that Agholor is also looking forward to since he has been there every step of the way as they've trained.

"These are special guys and I know Monday night is going to be a great stage for a lot of people," he said.

The enthusiasm is overwhelming for the rookies as they have grown up watching some of the players who they will now be competing against.

"I'm excited. I mean, this is like the top duo in the NFL, Roddy (White) and Julio Jones, especially with Matt Ryan at quarterback. I've been watching these guys for years and I'll probably get to play them in person. I'm pretty excited for it," Rowe said.

Rowe, a second-round draft pick who started at free safety for the first three seasons of his college career at Utah before he moved to corner during his senior year, has added versatility to the Eagles' roster.

"It feels good," he said. "It's not easy making the team. It's a lot of hard work. There are a lot of guys here and when you really count the numbers out, they only added really like one or two positions with new guys. It's tough, it's really slim."

Rice, a rookie free agent out of Coastal Carolina, feels similarly to Rowe and has used the time leading up to the first game to prepare and be thankful for what he's accomplished thus far.

"I feel blessed. Just to be in this situation, to be able to have this opportunity is just a huge feeling," he said.

The Eagles hit the practice field this week knowing what they needed to focus on and the rookies have been studying up on Atlanta.

"All their deep routes, not letting anybody get behind us because they like to do a lot of deep shots and try to take chances so we've been focusing on that. I feel like if we can stop the deep shots, they can't get past our defense," Rowe said.

Hicks, a third-round draft pick by the Eagles out of Texas, is really looking forward to being under the lights in the Georgia Dome for his first game as an NFL player. He will join Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans at the inside linebacker position.

"I'm just excited to get out there and play with my teammates. We've been preparing for this and it's going to be a night to remember," Hicks said.

Rice's is working to ensure that he is always doing what he's supposed to be doing and is excited to make his introduction as an Eagle.

"When my name's called, I just want to be ready. That's my main goal, just be ready when my name's called. From the team perspective, I think we just need to be ready, every game. Be prepared every game," he said.

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