Six Pro Bowls later and an All-Decade Team berth since have turned Cox, 32, into Eagles royalty and a great sounding boards for the Eagles’ top picks over the past two seasons: Jordan Davis in 2022 at No. 13 overall, and Jalen Carter at No. 9 and Nolan Smith at 30 this year.
“I’ve been in (their) position, drafted in the first round,” Cox said after the Eagles’ first training camp practice of the year Wednesday. “You expect a lot, but the biggest thing is to get in and learn, learn the defense, learn how to practice as a pro.
“Learn the new environment and having to deal with a lot of media, but let go of the distractions.”
Davis is expected to make a big leap in his second season and was the starting nose tackle in Philadelphia’s “50” fronts. What was surprising is how much the Eagles allowed the 340-pound Davis to play in the four-man fronts.
“It’s conditioning,” Cox said when discussing Davis and his leap forward. “It’s way better than it was this year versus last year. He’s come back and knows what to expect. I watched him run his conditioning test. He did a great job. I don’t think he was gassed one bit. Flew around in individuals today, flew around in practice, the reps he did take – today was a shot day. But I’m looking forward to seeing him just continue to grow with his conditioning. He came back, his weight was great, so I’m excited about him.”
Carter was started slowly with second-team reps, typically with third-year player Marlon Tuipulotu, who is returning from a knee injury.
“Physically he looks the part,” All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson said of Carter. “Got to go against him a few times in the run game. He’s stout. I’m anxious to see him out there, hit him with Jordan Davis, Fletch, yeah man, let the big guys teach them and let the young guys feast.”
Cox is serving as a good sounding board and template for Carter.
“I’ve been in his position, drafted in the first round,” Cox said. “You expect a lot, but the biggest thing is to get in and learn, learn the defense, learn how to practice as a pro. Learn the new environment and having to deal with a lot of media, but let go of the distractions. Overall, he’s going to be a really good player for us.”
Smith toggled between the second and third teams and dominated the backup offensive lineman and tight end with his energy and athleticism.
Undrafted rookie tight end Brady Russell was no match for Smith during red-zone work and Smith bloew up the play, forcing Marcus Mariota to roll against his throwing arm and give up on the play.
On the very next rep, Smith again sped up Mariota, who didn’t see linebacker Christian Ellis sitting down in zone coverage, resulting in an interception.
“He’s quick, man,” said Johnson. “You have to be patient with him [as a blocker]. He’s a great athlete, but what I like about Nolan in the little time I’ve known him is he works hard, and he’s always positive.
“He kind of has that BG (Brandon Graham) type attitude; never has a bad day. Obviously, I think he’ll learn a lot from Haason, from (Josh) Sweat. He’s been great so far.”
For one day, anyway, the two rookies looked like they belonged.