First NFL preseason game is a milestone for Eagles’ Shelton Gibson

Charles Mostoller

Shelton Gibson may be in the NFL, but he’s never been to an NFL game. Not even as a fan.

“It’s definitely exciting,” Gibson, the Eagles’ fifth round pick in April said. “I have never been to an NFL game in my life. Just like somebody said yesterday ‘I have the best seats.'”

Gibson will be more than a spectator Thursday night, at 7 p.m. against the Packers, as he’ll likely get the lionshare of reps on the field as the Birds expect to rest their top wide receivers after the first few series or so. He’s had an up and down camp, dropping several catchable balls but also hanging on to some spectacular receptions. With so much depth at wide receiver, it’s completely possible that he could be a victim of a numbers game by the end of training camp. But there’s also a special teams opportunity or a chance to put good play on tape to further his career.

“A lot of poeple come up to me and talk in my ear and say ‘I’m here for a reason’ and I try and understand that,” Gibson said, fielding questions from reporters regarding his roller coaster rookie offseason. “They drafted me for a reason.”

Gibson, like many other NFL first-timers will put that all on hold, if only for a moment. The former West Virginia Mountaineer remembers some special moments from college and always took time to take a mental picture. He’ll do the same Thursday as he stands on Lambeau Field to play in his first pro game.

“I do that pregame,” Gibson said. “My first time playing in Texas, it was my sophomore year, I went out there, I watched growing up Texas on TV and I went out on the field and I was amazed there. I will probably do the same thing.”

Veteran wide receiver Torrey Smith is excited to play in Green Bay too. 

“There are only two stadiums in the league I haven’t been in and this is one of them,” Smith, who will likely play in a limited role Thursday said. “Brett Favre played here, that’s my guy. You have to take it all in especially when you go to a place with that kind of tradition.”

Smith remembers being in Gibson’s position, but in a slightly different vein. He was drafted by his hometown Ravens in 2011 — a lock out summer — and was scrambling to get his wits about him when he kicked off his first pro game.

“My first preseaosn game was here and it was terrible. It was here at the Linc,” Smith said, unleashing his raspy low pitched laugh and flashing a smile. “I was out of the lock out, I barely even knew the plays but it’s definitely special. Now that I’ve been in it a little longer, you realize what they’re doing a lot of people don’t have the opprotunity to do it. They have their assignments, they know what they’re doing, but you have to get the nerves out. Once you step out on the field it’s the same game you’ve played since you were a kid.”

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