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Spadaro: Jalen Carter adapts to life in the NFL   

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

The player the Eagles selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft is the one who they thought they were getting – a player who wants to be great, who sets high goals, who has all the tools, and who, above everything else, knows he has a long road to take and can't afford to use shortcuts along the way.  

Jalen Carter has to be patient. He has to be meticulous. He has to be relentless. And with all of that in mind now that he's through all of two Eagles Training Camp practices, Carter is pleased with the progress he's made since coming to Philadelphia in the spring.  

Carter said on Friday morning after a 75-minute practice in high heat at the NovaCare Complex. "It's a lot different (from playing collegiately at Georgia). Guys are very strong, and the technique is very different. I just have to learn."  

Carter said he aspires to become the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year, but that is as far as he goes in speculating or wishcasting. Ask him about his role and he says he is looking to make an impact every time he is on the field. Ask him about bigger goals and he shrugs off the question. Carter is doing it all the right way – he is staying quiet, hunkering down on the responsibility of the NFL.  

Defensive coordinator Sean Desai said Carter is, like young players at this level, "learning to be a pro" and with that comes the understanding that it is wonderful and necessary to have talent, but perfecting technique and mastering the scheme and gaining a doctorate-level understanding of how it works in the trenches in the NFL is what separates players.  

It helps Carter that he has former Georgia teammate Jordan Davis in the same room and for Davis, in his second season, this is a chance to help his friend learn the nuances of being an NFL rookie. There is also veteran star Fletcher Cox, a former first-round draft pick who has gone on to become one of the league's greats. His perspective is invaluable for Carter.  

"I have been in his position, drafted in the first round, you expect a lot," Cox said. "The biggest thing is to get in and learn, learn the defense, learn how to practice as a pro, learn a new environment, having to deal with a lot of media, and let go of all the distractions. Overall, he is going to be a really good player for us."   

When? There is no designated timetable. The Eagles have a talented player in Carter, and they have a program that seems suited to bring out the best in him. There is the element of – sorry to borrow the phrase – "trusting the process."  

That is exactly what the Eagles and Carter are doing. Two days are in the books and Carter likes the progress he has made.  

"I feel like I did well," he said. "There is still a lot of improvement to do, I'm just getting better every day."   

Carter does not have much to say, and that is the way it should be after two non-padded, no-tackling practices. Building blocks are being put in place and Carter will work carefully to knock them down, one by one.  

And later, much later into his rookie season, we will get a sense of what Carter is and what he could become. For right now, he is a piece of extremely talented clay the Eagles are molding.  

"He looks the part. I went against him a few times in the run game, he's stout," right tackle Lane Johnson said. "I'm anxious to see him out there, especially with Jordan Davis and Fletch."  

In time, in time. Right now, Carter is working with his teammates, on the Training Camp grind, measuring improvement in small does and doing all the right things along the way.

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