- The second-year cornerback, fully healthy now, is among a group of candidates for one of the most hotly contested starting jobs in Training Camp.
His "redshirt" NFL season behind him, cornerback Sidney Jones is looking forward. And what he sees now is an opportunity to earn some playing time in the Eagles' secondary – no matter where that may be. On Day 1 of the team's 2018 Training Camp, Jones lined up as a starting cornerback at the nickel position.
A bit of a surprise? Maybe to onlookers. But defensive backs coach Cory Undlin said, repeatedly, during his media session in June that the Eagles planned on "rolling" the players lining up in the nickel, so maybe Thursday's practice was Jones' first chance.
Or maybe it meant more than that. We'll see. For Jones, just being on the field was a plus after spending most of his rookie season rehabbing from his pre-draft torn Achilles tendon. He played in the regular-season finale against Dallas, 29 total snaps, and that was it.
Now it's a new year and a new Jones and, yes, a new chance to prove himself.
"The biggest difference from last year, I really didn't get to practice with the ones (starters) and get to experience the defense," Jones said. "I was on scout team, mostly, and didn't get a feel for things. It's a big difference, getting to play with your teammates, in the defense, and learn the scheme. It's a totally different feeling.
"I'm just trying to help my team win. That's all it is."
The Eagles are certainly going to give other players looks in the nickel position with the starters as camp continues, and Jones will be included in the mix. Patrick Robinson played extremely well last year in that position and parlayed his performance into a free agent contract with the New Orleans Saints. The starting nickel job is open and Jones, De'Vante Bausby, and rookie Avonte Maddox are among those very much in the mix for the spot. That position may be the most competitive through the summer when all is said and done, actually.
As for Jones, the team's second-round draft pick in 2017 after his injury changed what would have certainly been a first-round selection, he doesn't care if he plays inside or outside. He just wants to play. When asked what his level of comfort was playing inside, Jones said, "100 percent comfortable."
For Day 1, that's a pretty good place to start.