By Lewis Gould
Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll got first-team reps this week, and he expects to stay in the starting lineup all season.
“That’s the plan. I wouldn’t come back for anything less. My plan is to come back and start. Obviously you have to compete, that’s what we all have to do every single year. Competition is what makes everyone better. We’re all trying to make everybody in this room better. But, my mindset is to start.”
In a busy offseason remaking the secondary, the Eagles re-signed Carroll after he suffered a fractured fibula in a blowout loss to the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving that cost him eight games last season.
Throughout the spring, fellow free agent signees Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks had been the outside cornerbacks with the first-team defense. Upon Carroll’s return, it was he and McKelvin with the top unit during the three minicamp practices this week.
Initially, Carroll’s plan was to continue rehabbing and get back on the field for training camp. That plan changed and the Eagles wasted little time inserting him back with the first team, beginning with Wednesday’s minicamp practice.
Carroll responded by flashing extraordinary footwork during the three mandatory practices and showing that he can be a disruptive force in the secondary.
“It’s what I always envisioned,” Carroll said of his early return. “I never looked at training camp as when I wanted to be back. I told myself, minicamp is what I wanted to aim for. If I could get back before that and that’s what I did. The coaches through me right back in there and that was cool with me.
“Finally having live action made me more comfortable getting up to speed before these next six weeks off. I didn’t really want training camp to be a shock to me. I didn’t want it to be one of those things where my body is like ‘whoa, man. This is over doing it.’ I wanted to do it now, so camp doesn’t surprise me at all. I know what’s going on with team drills, with individuals, with the media, everything so that training camp is a smooth transition.”
Clearly, new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and head coach Doug Pederson have no qualms with Carroll’s progress from the injury and his early return wasn’t something that went unnoticed by Pederson.