‘You Gotta Capitalize’: Eagles Rookie CB Turning Heads

Zech McPhearson

Getty Fourth-round pick Zech McPhearson is fighting for a role in the Philadelphia Eagles' secondary.

Rookie cornerback Zech McPhearson had every right to be upset when the Philadelphia Eagles signed Steven Nelson on July 25. The fourth-round pick was previously in the mix for a starting job in what was viewed as a weak secondary. Now that group could be a legitimate strength in Philly.

McPhearson was flying around the practice field on Tuesday and caused four pass breakups. He’s fast, physical, and never satisfied. Instead of accepting kudos for the four passes he disrupted, McPhearson was fixated on dropping two of them. The Baltimore native thought he could have returned them both for touchdowns.

“I view them as touchdowns if I catch them,” McPhearson said. “That’s two dropped pick-sixes and that’s what? Twelve points off the board and that’s a lot in this league, and whenever you have the opportunity to do that, you gotta capitalize.”

You don’t often hear 23-year-olds talk like that, yet those were his words after the first padded practice. McPhearson wasn’t running with the first-team defense, but the youngster was positioned on the outside making plays. There is a chance he could supplant Avonte Maddox for the nickel job if he continues to impress. And Nelson’s presence has helped him, not hurt him.

“Another vet coming into the room so that’s just another opportunity for me to learn,” McPhearson said. “Steve’s been in the league for a long time so he talks it up with me every day so that’s just more opportunity to learn and become a better ballplayer.”

One thing the rookie will need to adjust to is ticky-tack officiating. McPhearson is not afraid to make contact with receivers, some of those “hand pushes” might draw pass interference flags in the NFL.

“It’s a fine line so you gotta be careful,” McPhearson said. “My mindset is when the ball is in the air I’m the receiver so it’s a fight till the end. It’s 50-50, so it’s whether you want it or not.”

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