Malcolm Jenkins might be holding out for a new contract, but his teammates are firmly standing in his corner. Better yet, they are lavishly buying him dinner and drinks.
Jenkins was the guest of honor as the Eagles’ young defensive backs spent Friday evening partying at Tao Downtown in New York City, feasting on lobster and tossing back cognac. In addition to Jenkins, the group included: Avonte Maddox, Josh Hawkins, Jalen Mills, Deiondre Hall, Jeremiah McKinnon, Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Rodney McLeod, Tre’ Sullivan, Andrew Sendejo. The fun-loving crew racked up an epic $4,352.75 bill.
According to Maddox’s Instagram story, the second-year cornerback picked up the entire tab. His teammates can be seen ordering rounds and rounds of shots while playfully shouting, “Thank rook.” Maddox can be seen holding his head and holding up the bill.
They dined on lobster, shrimp, chicken, bone-in ribeye, fried rice and chicken, plus an $800 bottle of Don Julio 1942 Tequila. Their booze charge alone was $2,129. (Don’t worry, they gave a 20% tip — unlike LeSean McCoy.) The group also took time out to autograph a woman’s leg cast for a fan on the dance floor. All in all, it appeared to be a fun night of team bonding for what should be one of the strongest secondary units in the NFL.
Eagles’ Secondary Should Be One of the Best in the Business
On the field, the Eagles appear to be stacked in the secondary. When training camp begins in July, cornerback may be the biggest position battle to watch. Ronald Darby may not be ready for Week 1 and even if he is, the spot is ripe for the picking. Jalen Mills, Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas and Cre’Von LeBlanc are all young and hungry, and ready to steal snaps.
Maddox was a breakout star last season when forced into spot duty at cornerback. He started nine games and no one in the NFL allowed fewer yards per snaps in coverage. Maddox took reps with the first team during OTAs, lining up as the team’s slot corner and seems ready to take the next step. He can also play safety, if needed.
“I’m out there to compete,” Maddox told NBC Sports. “When I’m out there, I want them to throw the ball my way so I can make a play.”
Douglas is another player who flashed great promise and took advantage of every snap when guys went down with injuries. He hit the gym hard in the offseason and brought a starter’s mentality to OTAs. For now, Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby are penciled in as the starting cornerbacks, but that could change in a hurry. Nothing is guaranteed.
“I’m going to keep the same edge. [Mills and Darby are] going to come in and have to match the intensity,” Douglas told The Morning Call. “But right now we’re setting the bar for how we want to play. I think everybody’s competing for a starting job. Nobody is saying, ‘oh, these guys got this position on a lock.’”
The safety position is less fluid. Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod are the undisputed starters. However, McLeod is coming back from a season-ending ACL tear and the team will be cautious about bringing him back too soon. He did participate lightly in OTAs, though.
Jenkins is the ultimate wild card right now. The team’s emotional leader reportedly wants the Eagles to restructure his deal and hasn’t reported to OTAs. Will Jenkins report to mandatory minicamps next week? If not, the team will take real good looks at Andrew Sendejo and Tre Sullivan. Sendejo has been turning heads early this spring.
“Here, our safeties have to do a lot of talking. They’re doing a good job talking. Especially ‘Dejo,” Douglas told Inquirer.com. “He probably knows more than I do right now. I think he’s in the playbook probably every day.”
Rasul Douglas and Avonte Maddox could also see time at safety. The Eagles also went out and signed veteran Trae Elston last week to add depth.