- After a tough rookie summer, Shelton Gibson is showing his speed and big-play ability early in this Training Camp.
Second-year wide receiver Shelton Gibson is proving how powerful the magic of confidence can be. Last summer he was an unsure rookie who struggled to do the basics of the game well. Now, Gibson is in a totally different place as he's jumped out in the first four days of practice with big catches down the field, more precise route running, and much more consistency catching the football.
"It's all about confidence," Gibson said. "It was really tough last year. I would make a mistake and let it keep me down. I didn't shake it. For sure, confidence is the big difference between Year 1 and Year 2. That and my work ethic. I just feel so much better about everything now."
A fifth-round draft pick in 2017, Gibson battled the football in the spring and summer. He was used to running away from the line of scrimmage and using his speed to create separation down the field. With the Eagles, the route tree involves a lot of coming back to the football and making plays that way, and that took some time to understand. Gibson played on special teams in the second half of the season and the playoffs as a gunner on punts, using his terrific speed and release at the line of scrimmage to get to the punt returner. His stat line of two receptions for 11 yards wasn't exactly eye-popping, but Gibson took the next step in the offseason after winning the Super Bowl.
"I just worked hard. I caught a lot of passes. I listened to my teammates who said not to worry when I drop a pass. I think all of that has paid off," Gibson said. 'I'm thankful that the coaches kept me around and had faith in me. I'm in a different place now with the way I'm playing."
Gibson isn't guaranteed a roster spot, not with veterans like Markus Wheaton and Kamar Aiken and even Rashard Davis, who has made some plays early in camp, competing for roster positions. But Gibson can fly, and he's taken the next step and he's in there making plays and building trust with the quarterbacks throwing him the football.
But it's still early. Consistency is the key. Head coach Doug Pederson said that Gibson is showing up early in this Training Camp, and that's a positive.
"I think he has improved, and the second part of that I think is just confidence, just playing," Pederson said." He played some special teams roles for us towards the end of the year last year. It gives him a little bit of confidence. He's really embraced the offseason. He's studied, he's worked hard, and he's done a nice job. He's off to a good start to this year's camp."
That's all good and encouraging, and with that there is this understanding: It's not how you start in this league. It's how you finish.
Gibson knows the deal.
"I have to keep doing it," Gibson. "That's my intention. If I mess up, I have players like Nelson (Agholor) next to me telling me not to think about it, to move on and make the play the next time. That has really helped me a lot. I'm having fun. Last year, there were a lot of downs. I'm not thinking about that at all now."