Leader Emerging in Eagles CB Competition, Darius Slay Endorses Him

Avonte Maddox

Getty Avonte Maddox is one of three guys battling for the starting CB spot at Eagles training camp.

Darius Slay wants to push all his teammates to the mountain top. The three-time Pro Bowler wants them to be better than him.

Slay’s attitude is refreshing, especially in a sports world mostly dominated by selfishness and greed. But the 29-year-old has felt the sadness and frustration of losing — remember, Slay spent his first seven seasons in the football cesspool of Detroit — and wants the guy starting opposite him to be his equal.

The Eagles have an open competition for that spot going on at training camp. Right now, the leader in the clubhouse is Avonte Maddox.

Maddox, a fourth-round pick in 2018, ran with the first-team defense on Tuesday and started on the outside for a second straight day. Don’t read too much into these early depth charts since the Eagles love to rotate guys in and out at the cornerback position. However, Maddox knows the opportunity in front of him and he’s leaning on Slay for any conceivable competitive advantage.

“That’s everything,” Maddox said of starting opposite Slay. “Since he got in here I’ve been asking him everything I can on the outside, from splits to what you’re looking at, to where you’re lined up … your steps, your footwork, top of the route, beginning of the route … I’m just trying to learn everything I can from Slay because he’s a great asset to me and you know ever since he came in here he’s been willing to help me no matter what.”

The job isn’t guaranteed to Maddox, not by a long shot. The 24-year-old knows he’s likely to be replaced tomorrow as the team continues to evaluate Maddox, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas in a “friendly” and “open” competition.

“We’re out there helping each other get better,” Maddox said. “Right now, it’s not about who’s position it is, it’s about wanting to get better each and every day, and working as one unit because everyone is going to play.”

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Slay & Maddox Building Close Relationship

Maddox is a Detroit native who attended Martin Luther King High School. He grew up a fan of the Detroit Lions and spent his formative years watching Slay lock down some of the top receivers in the NFL.

In fact, Maddox sent Slay a message on social media when he first got to the NFL and the former Lions cornerback replied with some sage advice.

“I hit him up on social media and he actually inboxed me back so I almost kind of knew him a little before,” Maddox said.

Slay and Maddox attempted to train together this offseason in Detroit but the timing didn’t work out. Now the two are teammates on the Eagles and they talk all the time, something Maddox is very appreciative of as he looks to improve his own game.

“He’s a great guy, always willing to help and teach me as much as he can,” Maddox said. “Like he always tells me, ‘I want you to be at the top, way better than me so I’m going to give you everything I got.'”

Eagles D-Coordinator Updates CB Competition

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has never been one to hand out starting jobs on the first day of padded practices. And he’s certainly not going to start after 27 years coaching in the NFL.

The starting cornerback job opposite Slay has always been and continues to be an open competition. The team will have “plenty of time” to evaluate and name a starter in the next few weeks.

“We have always tried to do that during training camp, just sort of throw different groups out there and mix-and-match guys,” Schwartz told reporters on Tuesday. “Number one, to be able to see players against the different competition so you’re not sort of working against the same guys all training camp. And, number two, just to have a comfort level with the other guys that are out there.”

Maddox has locked it down during the first two days, but look for Jones and Douglas — and, to a lesser degree, Nickell Robey-Coleman — to take turns on the outside. The Eagles want all their cornerbacks ready to plug-and-play considering all the injuries the team has endured at the position in recent years.

“You’re going to see a lot of different players,” Schwartz said. “There’s going to be some days just because of our accelerated camp, there’s going to be some guys that have days off, so you’ll see some guys in there. We have seen the last few years how important it is to plug players in and still have a level of success.”

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