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Barksdale: The Worm Has Turned- The kid may just make it!

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See the bold. Also, great in game pics on the Eagle site of Rashad (both before and during game).


Coach's Clipboard: Clean It Up


August 15, 2007 | Last Updated: 8/15/07 5:06 PM ET | Comments (0)



Johnson: Eliminate The Mistakes


Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson talked about fine-tuning the defense on Wednesday following the team's first preseason effort. The Eagles defense certainly opened up room for doubt after allowing the Ravens to march 93 yards on 12 plays for an opening drive touchdown.


Johnson said the source of the errors was the team's mental preparation.


"The thing that showed up that was amazing to me was, in that 12-play drive, six out of the 12 plays we had mental mistakes," said Johnson, who accepted some blame for the errors. "The next three drives we were in the game. They went three-and-out, three-and-out and three-and-out. We didn't have one mental mistake. So, it tells me maybe we weren't quite mentally prepared."


The mental errors Johnson mentioned occurred in blitzing and gap control.


Johnson indicated the defense could receive a boost Friday with the return of cornerback Lito Sheppard, who Johnson expects to play. He was uncertain about the return of free safety Brian Dawkins.


Of course, there were positives to be taken from the performance. Johnson was impressed by the performance of defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley, who the defensive guru said was probably the team's "most productive lineman."


Ditto for linebacker Chris Gocong, who Johnson said was solid in pass coverage and on the blitz. Johnson said Gocong was one of the players who didn't make mental mistakes, and looked like "a guy who felt like he belonged."


Johnson explained that because of Gocong's performance, he didn't feel a need to play as long as originally planned. Johnson had indicated the linebacker would play the first half and maybe more, but Gocong only played for the first quarter and in certain nickel situations in the second frame. Johnson said Gocong would play more on Friday.


There were a host of other young players Johnson was impressed with Monday, including cornerbacks Rashad Barksdale and Nick Graham, safeties C.J Gaddis and Marcus Paschal, linebackers Stewart Bradley and Akeem Jordan and defensive end Victor Abiamiri.


Johnson specifically singled out Barksdale as the most impressive of the rookies. Johnson said he had been hard on Barksdale throughout training camp, and the sixth-round pick's strong performance was "the biggest surprise" of the game.


"He helped himself the other night," Johnson said. "I think he showed he can play and that was the biggest thing. You never know, a guy coming in [who] hasn't played much football, all of a sudden, he gets in the first preseason game and it didn't seem like it fazed him a bit. He's very physical; had good coverage. So, he did a nice job."


nother Step Complete In Road To NFL


August 15, 2007 | Last Updated: 8/15/07 4:32 PM ET | Comments (0)



Through tryouts, mini-camps and now training camp, the road to making an NFL team started a long time ago for rookies and young veterans itching to get onto the field for the first time.


For a rookie like undrafted free agent Nick Graham, eight months of preparation, high emotions and mixed feelings led up to Monday night's preseason opener.


"It was great just to get out there," said free agent cornerback Nick Graham who earned praise Wednesday from coordinator Jim Johnson for his five-tackle performance. "It's something that you've been dreaming about since you were a kid."


Starting strongside linebacker Chris Gocong isn't a rookie, but Monday was his first preseason game in the NFL. He has waited nearly two years to get to hit someone on another team, and he could not have been more thrilled to do it.


"I think my adrenaline was so high that it felt a little slower than practice" Gocong said. "I was so hyped up about the game that I forgot about certain things."


But once that first play came around, so did the nerves. Johnson said on Wednesday he allowed Gocong to come off the edge and blitz the quarterback to help calm him down. Gocong nearly came up with the sack.


For cornerback and sixth-round pick Rashad Barksdale, it has not been easy making the transition from a one-year player at Division I-AA Albany to the Eagles. He hasn't exactly played in front of a crowd of 67,000+ fans, or against top-tier receivers, but once he began playing, he felt much more comfortable.


"I was a little nervous from the get-go, but once I got into the swing of things I was just ready to play football," Barksdale said. "My first tackle I got was a pretty good hit. The back came out and I put a pretty good hit on him, and once I got that hit I was pretty good."


The transition for a cornerback from contact practice is one thing, but for a quarterback it is a whole different ballgame. All the eyes of the coaches, the players and the Philadelphia fans were on second-round pick Kevin Kolb in his first game.


A real live game is different for a quarterback because he can be hit. The Ravens did lay a few licks on Kolb, but that wasn't the biggest difference the rookie noticed.


"Obviously the coaches aren't standing right there to tell you what to do," Kolb said. "You're on your own, and when you make a mistake, it's on you. It's nice at the same time to be out there by yourself, you kind of slow things down a bit. You make your own plays and use your own instincts."


Kolb was happy with his performance – one in which he went 11-for-20 for 77 yards and no interceptions or touchdowns – and learned a lot from the experience.


"I was happy to get a couple of two-minute drills in there," Kolb said. "You can really get your blood pumping on two-minute drills, and I thought that happened."


Barksdale was also content with how he played. His play was especially good considering he, Graham and Joselio Hanson had to play almost the entire game, as two corners (Lito Sheppard and Dustin Fox) were injured and the two starters (Sheldon Brown and Will James) only played a couple of drives. This meant matching up against some third and fourth receivers, but it was not too big of a problem.


"I did pretty well, I thought," Barksdale said. "To be honest, I did better than I thought I was going to do."


Now, all of the young guys can go back to practice, watch the tape, and see how they can improve. Then go out and do it all again in front of their first home crowd against Carolina on Friday.


Coordinator Jim Johnson:


On what he saw out of the young players during Friday's game: "Well, first of all, I could go down the list. TheI thought there were two young corners that played very well. [CB Nick] Graham and [CB Rashad] Barksdale, for [their] first preseason game, first NFL game, showed that they can play corner.y ran with those guys, tackled, and were very physical. So, that was nice; not surprised, but I was happy with that. I saw two young safeties, [s Marcus] Paschal and [s C.J.] Gaddis, do a nice job handling the situations. You saw [LB] Stewart Bradley play a little bit of SAM and MIKE linebacker, and did a nice job. Those guys I'm very happy with. [DE] Victor [Abiamiri] played some defensive end, [and defensive] tackle in nickel [packages], and did a nice job. So, those are the guys that kind of caught our eye."

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