Five days of working out together may not sound like a lot. Especially when you’re clad in shorts, not pads.
For Juan Castillo, that first week of OTAs was invaluable. The Eagles’ second-year defensive coordinator spent much of last season under the microscope. Now, with a full offseason to work with, Castillo is brimming with confidence.
“We’re practicing. We’re allowed to have our guys here. We didn’t have that last year,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of competition and you can already tell they’re having a lot of fun on the field.”
Andy Reid’s OTAs are a glorified passing camp, so offensive players usually reap the rewards. But, after the Eagles took defensive players with four of their first five picks in April’s draft, Castillo has been able to focus in on specific areas, especially the new guys. He said they spent the entire first week working on one coverage. The defense kept the same coverage each day, while the offense switched up its personnel.
“It’s a teaching progression,” Castillo said. “What you end up finding out is that everything has a weakness, everything has a strength, and the players are starting to understand that about the coverage.”
Of course, everyone is buzzing about the rookies. Fletcher Cox, a defensive tackle/speed end hybrid, is the most talked about. Castillo said he’ll start the season at tackle, but don’t be surprised to see him line up on the outside at times. Castillo also had glowing early reviews for Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry and Brandon Boykin.
“The thing is, if they’re good enough, they’re going to play,” Castillo said. “From what we’ve seen, those guys are pretty good — all four of them look like they’re going to be able to help us in one way or another so we’re kind of excited about that.”