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The luxury of Darius Slay and James Bradberry reverberating through CB room for the Eagles

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Photo Credit by John McMullen/JAKIB Sports

PHILADELPHIA – The Butterfly Effect of having two top-tier outside cornerbacks is paying dividends for the Eagles.

Understanding they don’t have to be thrown into the deep end of the pool the Eagles now feel comfortable enough with the talent added to the room to shift third-year cornerback Zech McPhearson inside to be the backup to Avonte Maddox in the slot.

That’s significant because McPhearson has spent his first two pro seasons as the top backup on the outside, first to Darius Slay and Steve Nelson in 2021 and to Slay and second-team All-Pro James Bradberry last season.

The continued development of 2022 undrafted rookie Josh Jobe and the additions of free-agent Greedy Williams and talented fourth-round pick Kelee Ringo has given new secondary coach D.K. McDonald impressive depth and the comfort of trying to find the best roles for everyone in the room.

Maddox, who is still rehabbing from offseason surgery, did not participate in last week’s OTAs while Bradberry worked in individuals but not 7-on-7 drills. That meant Zech Mac hot first-team work in the slot while Williams and Jobe split reps opposite Slay.

Learning behind accomplished vets is helping all of the young CBs.

Ringo, who many projected to be an early Day 2 pick, has the most upside and looks like a future starter with the prototypical length and speed for the position. The Eagles moved up to the top of the fourth round to get the former Georgia star by handing a 2024 third-round pick to Houston.

“It’s really valuable,” McDonald said when asked what interning behind Slay and Bradberry means. “It is out on the field but especially in the meeting room. He gets to sit beside Bradberry and Slay, ask them questions, pick their brain, on some of the successes they had, and those two have had a lot of successes in this league.

“They have well-earned reputations. He gets to ask those questions, the warts they have, the scars they have, so that’s been really good. But then to watch how they work on the field. That’s the most impressive thing about those guys is not the accolades they’ve had.”

Both Slay, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, and Bradberry are post-30 now and you can see the long-term plan to try to get the successors ready but both are coming off top-tier seasons and the Eagles have the luxury of time to figure out the next chapter.

“I think what they’re doing with their bodies is what they’ve always done, the stuff off the field,” McDonald said of his two top CBs. “Putting right things in their bodies, all the stretching, that’s what they’ve always done, so I don’t think anything’s going to change for them. That’s why they’re able to play at a high level, efficiently right now because they’ve done all those things to make sure their body is capable to go play on Sunday, or Thursday or Monday, whenever we play. That’s the good thing about them. They’re pros, they know how to do that.

“And the beautiful thing I love about them is they teach other guys how to do that, too, so they can get into their 30s. Like Slay told me today, 30 is the new 20, so he’ll be able to play a little longer hopefully.”

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