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Barksdale's Road Hasn't Been All Smiles

August 18, 2007 | Last Updated: 8/18/07 3:32 PM ET | Comments (0)



After a tough training camp, the games couldn't have come soon enough for rookie cornerback Rashad Barksdale.


Barksdale, who played only one year of collegiate football at Albany, heard it from the coaches during training camp. He admitted that the transition from the mini-camps to training camp was tougher than he expected. At Lehigh, he couldn't understand why he would be chewed out for making mistakes that he saw other players, veterans in fact, make.


The tough love worked as he was praised by defensive coordinator Jim Johnson for his efforts in Monday's preseason game against Baltimore. Four nights later, in his second preseason game, he grabbed an interception in the fourth quarter of Friday night's 27-10 win over Carolina.


On quarterback Brett Basanez's first throw of the game, Barksdale intercepted a pass above his head and weaved through the Carolina offense for 35 yards back to the Eagles' 45-yard line.


"It felt great," Barksdale said. "That could be on ESPN. If it's on ESPN, I'll be happy."


On Carolina's previous drive, the Eagles let up their first touchdown of the game on a 10-play, 90-yard drive led by backup quarterback David Carr. Moments later, fullback Jason Davis turned it over to the Panthers deep in Eagles territory. As the game started to get a little interesting, Barksdale heard some familiar things from his coaches that reminded him of being back at Lehigh.


And instead of sulk over his performance, Barksdale decided to step up and do something about it.


"When I went in, I told the other cornerback, Nick Graham, 'let's make up for the mistakes we had last drive,'" said Barksdale. "Coach (Andy) Reid got on us and told us that we needed to step it up, and we got on the phone and those coaches got on us too. (We wanted to) make up for those mistakes, and I was very fortunate to get that interception and help the cause."


Barksdale could get down when scolded, but instead the words inspire him.


"Basically when any coach talks to me and gives me advice or gets on me I take it in as much as I can, and make sure next time I get on the field I don't make the same mistake I did last time," Barksdale said.


The young corners also seek advice from their peers.


"I can just … take in everything, from coaches, and Lito (Sheppard) and Sheldon (Brown)," Barksdale said. "They've been really good in telling me what I need to do and little things that they look for."


In order to make this team, Barksdale knows he needs to display some consistency. And now that he has made some nice plays in two straight games, he is starting to show what he can do once he knows the defense well enough. Barksdale has taken long strides since he first came into the NFL, but he has a long way to go.


But after the game, his main concern was what he didn't bring home.


"I thought I was going to take that to the house, and (after I got tackled) I got so excited I threw the football. I didn't keep my first interception," Barksdale said. "I threw the ball, I got so excited I forgot all about it."

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