I want to welcome everyone to my new web site and blog. From here forward, every few weeks, I’ll be telling my story here, letting you know what’s going on with me and the Philadelphia Eagles, and what I’m doing off the field, too. My goal is to give you insights you won’t find anywhere else, and to allow us to connect in a meaningful way.
After an offseason of pretty big changes, I’m suddenly one of the veterans of the group who came in with Coach Kelly. I’m expecting a lot from our team and from myself.
ON THE FIELD
When the 2014-15 season ended, I set a goal for myself: to be on the field next year each and every play, and help lead our offense. To do that, I had to continue to improve my blocking.
I’ve been lucky enough to watch Brent Celek block over the past two years. He’s got great technique, and he’s been successful at it for a long time. I’ve learned a lot from him, and wanted to keep building on that foundation. I reached out Hudson Houck, a former offensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys. Hudson is basically the guru of blocking, so I headed down to San Diego a couple months back to train with him.
We worked on everything from coordinating where my hand placement should go to how to use my hips in blocking. We focused on being the perfect blocker. Obviously, I’m not perfect yet, but that’s something I’m going to strive to be. With everything I’ve learned, I’m expecting to have that much more impact on the field every play, whether I’m blocking or making catches.
One of the other benefits of training in San Diego was that I got to workout with Darren Sproles. First and foremost, Darren is a great guy. We had joked about working out together during the season, and I kind of wanted to try something a little different. It was a lot of fun for me, going out there and seeing Darren in his element. (He lives and trains in San Diego during the offseason.) Darren’s the Energizer Bunny out there. He never gets tired. He’s really strong. He works so hard. He is always constantly running and training a hundred miles an hour. He allowed me to push myself to be in the best shape I’ve probably ever been in.
One of the other things I did when I was in Southern California was meet Tony Gonzalez. I got his number from one of our tight end coaches — he played with Tony when they were in Atlanta together — and I just cold texted him. It was a no-lose situation for me. If he said “no,” then I would have respectfully understood.
He said yes. So I drove to see him.
The funny thing was that I wasn’t nervous about meeting him at all. He was such a genuine person on the text message that it made it seem like it was something that he would love to do. He actually was fired up about it. It wasn’t like going to meet an idol, which he truly is of mine. It was just going to meet a friend.
We talked about a lot of things. When it came to football, we talked about the steps I needed to take to go from being good to great. We talked about little things — the nuances of how to run a certain route, what’s advantageous against certain coverages, that sort of thing. He also talked about the importance of having a routine. He had a routine of greatness that he would do every day. He felt it gave him the edge over the competition in the long run.
He also really focused on the mental side of the game. We put so much into our bodies physically and emotionally, he explained, that we kind of ignore training the brain, and learning new ways to train the brain. That’s kind of what we talked about. He reads a lot of books about mental training and successful CEOs to understand what makes them successful. That’s some of the knowledge that he imparted on me.
THE NEWEST EAGLES
We’ve been back training in Philadelphia now for several weeks, which has given me a chance to meet most of my new teammates.
DeMarco Murray and I met for the first time at the facility right after things started back up. It wasn’t a big introduction — just something as simple as, “Hey, I’m DeMarco. Nice to meet you. Looking forward to it.” But ever since, we’ve kind of just clicked. We do a lot of things together when we’re at the facility: eating, lifting together, whatever it might be. He’s a great, great guy — a great teammate who’s going to bring the best out of those around him. He’s also an amazing football player, and that’s going to be really good for our team. He’s a one-cut, physical running back, and I’m really excited to be able to play with him.
He’s also one of the hardest working guys that I’ve ever been around. He has a tremendous work ethic, the kind of guy who holds everyone else to a higher standard than they might reach on their own. He also has — I don’t know how to describe it, exactly — basically, a personality that you don’t really want to mess with. He’s the kind of guy you always want to keep in your side of the ring, and he’s going to help our team a lot.
Finally, he’s also a true competitor. That’s something that I consider myself as well. I love to compete in everything that I do. So DeMarco and I are constantly competing with one another. I mean, every time we lift, we see who can do more weight or more reps. Every time we’re out there on the on the field running, we see who can run a faster time. So it’s just constant competition between the two of us.
Sam Bradford also joined us this offseason, and he’s been practicing with us for the past few weeks. He and our former quarterback, Nick Foles, are pretty similar kinds of players. They both want to win at all costs. I don’t think I’ve played with a quarterback with a stronger arm than Sam. It’s so effortless every time he throws it. Sam’s kind of a reserved guy, but I think you can tell that he’s going to hold guys to a higher standard as well. If you’re not in the place he wants you to be, he’s going to let you know that you need to get there, and be there when you’re supposed to be there. I think he’s going to hold guys accountable in that regard. If he can lead us, I think could be a really fun year.
On the defensive side of the ball, Byron Maxwell is going to help us a lot. He’s a guy that can come in and lock down a number one receiver. That’s kind of what you need in the NFL right now — someone who you can trust each and every play to go against a team’s top playmaker. That signing is going to help us a lot in our division in the NFC, with all the great receivers that we have to play each and every week.
I love how everyone on the team is loving the training process right now. We don’t want to be great just on Sundays. Everyone wants to be great each every single day. I think that’s something that is going to take us over the next step. Because if you want to get better, that’s the mentality you have to have. And we want to be the best.