Philadelphia Eagles' CJ Smith finds his voice as he fights for roster spot
PHILADELPHIA -- As a wide-eyed undrafted rookie last season,Authentic Gareon Conley Jersey , Eagles cornerback C.J. Smith would listen to critiques from his coaches on the practice field or in the film room, nod his head and try to rectify his misstep.
This year, though, Smith said such conversations last a bit longer.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and defensive backs coach Cory Undlin own reputations as energetic mentors with high expectations. At practices, offering encouragement, they bark at players more than any other coaches, commendation or simply a jolt to the workout.
And now that Smith carries a year of experience with the Birds, he said he doesn't mind asking more questions or explaining himself. The former North Dakota star feels more comfortable working with the coaches, which has helped him strengthen his grasp of the defense and improve his technique entering a fierce battle for a roster spot.
"It's nice," Smith said. "So I can work with them or talk to them about things, because this year I sort of know the coaches and know what to expect,Howie Long Jersey, rather than just trying to learn everything when I didn't know what was going on. It's really helped."
But Smith faces a steep challenge as he aims to use his familiarity with the coaches as leverage to shoot up the depth chart. Smith, 24,Authentic Derek Carr Jersey, spent the beginning of last season on Philly's practice squad before the team moved him up to the active roster in late October.
He mostly played special teams,Authentic Amari Cooper Jersey, Smith remained lurking as an option to carve out a role on the defense. The Eagles signed veteran Patrick Robinson and drafted cornerbacks in the second and third rounds this spring to bolster the unit, even as the Eagles battled ineffective play at cornerback.But as the Birds reshaped their crops of corners this offseason, likely leaving Smith on the fringe of the roster.
Robinson, Jalen Mills and rookie Rasul Douglas took most of the first-team snaps with Schwartz's defense during organized team activities the past three days, while Smith sits among a group of young corners who displayed positive flashes with the second and third units.
Smith will probably be competing against Aaron Grymes, Ron Brooks, Mitchell White and Dwayne Gratz for one or two roster spots.
"You just got to make plays," Smith said. "That's how you make the team is you make enough plays to show you deserve it."
Smith will get another crack at making an impression on coaches during this week's three-day minicamp, which runs from Tuesday to Thursday. After that,Authentic Howie Long Jersey,Authentic Khalil Mack Jersey, he'll move toward July's training camp with the intention of winning a job.
And he'll be able to lean on his talkative coaches through the process.
"They're great coaches,Khalil Mack Jersey,Derek Carr Jersey,Amari Cooper Jersey,Gareon Conley Jersey, they go really fast all the time," Smith said. "That's what you want. I'm trying to learn everything I can from them."