From the Deep South to way up North, Martell Mallett has run with a football his whole life. And now that he's getting a chance to stick with the Eagles here at Lehigh, Mallett's making sure that he leaves everything on the field.
Mallett, the reigning most outstanding rookie of the Canadian Football League, split all the running back reps (and some fullback reps) with rookie Charles Scott throughout the first three days of training camp. While that may have tired out the Arkansas-Pine Bluff product, Mallett still managed to impress offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
"He had a terrific first year, rookie of the year in Canada," Mornhinweg said. "He can do a lot of things. He can run the football, he can catch the football, he can run routes at a high level for a running back."
Mallett rushed for 1,240 yards (on 5.8 yards per carry) and six touchdowns while also earning a spot on the All-Star team for the British Columbia Lions last year. A performance like that opens the eyes of football scouts everywhere, so Mallett was offered the opportunity to join the Eagles all the way back in January. Now, after a full off-season in the weight room and studying the playbook, Mallett is ready for his chance.
"I just go out and play like it's my last day, practice like it's my last day because you never know when it will be your last day practicing," he said. "That's the type of mindset I come in with every day and that's how I work. So whatever happens happens and I'll know that I have worked hard at the end of the day."
The only thing that seems to be set in stone at running back is that LeSean McCoy is slated to be the No. 1 running back, barring injury. After that, Mike Bell is presumed to have the inside track for the No. 2 role, but Scott, Mallett and roster holdover Eldra Buckley will have an opportunity to make plays this pre-season. But Mornhinweg's advice for all of those competitors is to focus on your own responsibilities.
"Don't be counting numbers, don't worry about anybody else," Mornhinweg said. "Just do your job at the highest level possible, the highest level of consistency possible and then good things tend to happen. That's where most of the fellas are right now."
And it seems that Mallett has bought into that, as he preached the importance of improving his skills at the little things.
"I feel real confident (in pass protecting)," he said. "The offensive line coach (Juan Castillo), he breaks it down real easy for us.
"That's the whole idea, learning every position ... We line in slot, wideout, so ... you have to know every position on the field."
As for the differences between the NFL game and the game up North, Mallett said the adjustment isn't anything to worry about.
"In Canada, it was different," he said. "The running back had freedom to move around in the backfield and never be called for a false start or anything ... but I was just there one year so I'm still used to playing American football. Too much hasn't changed it my mindset."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 3:40 p.m., July 29