Eagles rookies stole the spotlight on first day of Training Camp

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Philadelphia Eagles Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith
Newly drafted Philadelphia Eagles’ Nolan Smith, right, and Jalen Carter speak during a news conference at the NFL football team’s training facility, Friday, April 28, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The NovaCare Complex opened its doors yesterday to another year of Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp. With a recent youth infusion taking place in the City of Brotherly Love, the emphasis on a strong Summer cannot be overstated. A pair of first-round rookies out of Georgia took to the field for the first time as Eagles and for what must have felt like the thousandth as teammates, and it didn’t take long for either to make an impact.

Nolan Smith and Jalen Carter infamously joined former Bulldogs teammates Nakobe Dean and Jordan Davis this offseason, before later being accompanied by CB Kelee Ringo. With Bulldogs DNA flowing through this Eagles defense, these players look destined to become the core that Howie Roseman builds around for years to come. But that’s the bigger picture. What mattered on Wednesday was getting off to a steady start and shaking off any rust/nerves.

Smith and Carter were able to do that and then some. Carter, who the Eagles moved up for in the 2023 NFL Draft, had a would-be sack on Jalen Hurts, while Nolan Smith dazzled just about everyone on-site with his get-off and speed.

Nolan Smith hits the ground running

“He’s quick, man.” Lane Johnson told reporters after practice. “What I like about Nolan in the little time that I’ve known him is that he works hard and he’s always positive. He kind of has that BG type attitude where he never has a bad day. He’ll learn a lot from Haason [Reddick], from [Josh] Sweat, and he’s been great so far.”

Newly drafted Philadelphia Eagles’ Nolan Smith speaks during a news conference at the NFL football team’s training facility, Friday, April 28, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the pass-rusher is impressing so early on. Smith demanded a PDF copy of Sean Desai’s playbook shortly after bein drafted. The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder stayed late after some spring practices, working on perfecting on Miller’s patented “ghost move“. It surely won’t be long until it’s flaunted at Eagles Training Camp.

Jalen Carter could be a force to be reckoned with

Jalen Carter was once considered to be the cream of the 2023 NFL Draft crop. Off-field issues saw him slide all the way down into the reaching arms of Howie Roseman, and the Eagles GM instantly reinforced his decision and the confidence the team has in Carter. Aided by Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, Roseman happily pulled the trigger on Carter knowing that this culture could get the best out of him.

Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) waves to the crowd before the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game between Georgia and TCU, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter, projected as one of the top players in next month’s NFL draft, has been charged with reckless driving and racing in conjunction with the crash that killed offensive lineman Devin Willock and a recruiting staff member.(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

“I’ve been in his position. I was drafted in the first round.” Fletcher Cox told reporters on Wednesday. “But the biggest thing is to get in and learn. Learn the defense, learn how to practice as a pro — learning the new environment of being around a lot of media and let go of the distractions, but overall he’s going to be a really good player for us.”

There are certainly worse mentors for Jalen Carter to have. Cox is now 32 years old and has become a stalwart of this Eagles defense. He’s seen it all and ticked off just about every box there is for a defensive tackle to tick.

There is every chance that Carter comes into his rookie campaign with a chip on his shoulder and there is no place quite like Philadelphia to embrace that burning flame. It’s only been one practice, but the monstrous defensive tackle turned plenty of heads.

Tempering expectations is usually a standard practice when it comes to rookie players, but it’s becoming increasingly hard not to fall head-over-heels with the potential of both Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum