July 1, 2024   8 MIN READ

‘About To Be The Real Deal’

Rodgers "Anxious" To Compete In Training Camp


Cramming his belongings into a car late last week, Eagles cornerback Isaiah Rodgers embarked on a road trip from his hometown of Tampa, Fla., to Philadelphia with his mother.

Rodgers, who spent some time in his new city during spring practices, was making his official move up north ahead of training camp.

While Rodgers arrived in Philadelphia around 7 a.m. Saturday morning, after briefly settling in to his new digs, he was back on the road merely an hour later.

His next destination: Allentown, Pa., or more specifically Coca-Cola Park, the venue for teammate DeVonta Smith’s third-annual celebrity softball game.

The long haul and minimal rest did little to drain the fuel of Rodgers.

Unruffled and poised, Rodgers even called his own shot hours before the start of the event, forecasting his home run derby title.

Competing against teammates such as Smith, A.J. Brown, Jalen Hurts, Saquon Barkley, Darius Slay and former Eagles receiver Terrell Owens, Rodgers proved prophetic, claiming the crown after launching 12 home runs.

Rodgers, a Little League shortstop and pitcher before ultimately moving on from baseball in high school, believed his past benefitted his present.

“I just think my baseball background,” Rodgers recalled in an exclusive interview with Inside The Birds. “I feel like out of everybody who was there, I played. I actually wasn’t gonna be in it until Slay said he was gonna be in it.

“And we’re real competitive. So I was like, ‘Alright.’ So, I went back and told him I’d join. I just think my history of just playing baseball and loving the game.”

Isaiah Rodgers

ITB PHOTO: Eagles CB Isaiah Rodgers has sights set on carving out a prominent role after being suspended for the 2023 season.

The event drew hordes of devoted Eagles fans, families and entertainment seekers.

For Rodgers, who has already established a swift and staunch following among the Philadelphia fanbase, it was his first exposure to the fervid support and outreach.

“It caught me off guard,” he admitted. “Like, I knew it was gonna be a big audience based off the previous videos that they posted on social media. But it was hands down, even [DeVonta] said it was the biggest outcome.

“And it’s just getting bigger and bigger every year. It’s a great thing that he’s doing. A lot of people showed up and a lot of people showed out. And just knowing a lot of people who recognized me before I even ran on the field with a uniform on, just knowing me from my face and just knowing me as a person, so it was just genuine love out there, man.”

Rodgers’ whirlwind arrival in Philadelphia is consistent with his turbulent offseason, one in which the 26-year-old cornerback was reinstated by the NFL following a year-long suspension for violating the league’s gambling policy.

He was reinstated two days prior to the commencement of the NFL Draft.

In New York City on April 23 to meet with commissioner Roger Goodell, Rodgers had been reinstated by meeting’s end.

But his return to Philadelphia wasn’t as simple. Rodgers was initially supposed to head home to Tampa and was in transit before a phone call prompted a detour.

“I was actually at the airport, headed back home to Tampa, really waiting for the news to come out because I knew couldn’t just go to the facility,” he explained. “I think I was sitting at my gate, and that’s when the Eagles contacted me and was like, ‘Alright, let’s come to work. Come to Philly. You wanna come today?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’

“We tried to get a flight and there were no flights remaining. So I had to hop on a train for the first time in my life. That was different. So, I was on the train from Jersey, and ended up in Philly in the next hour. Then I was at work that next morning.”

Rodgers, whose career started with the Indianapolis Colts, had signed with the Eagles while suspended. He joined with the understanding that a learning curve was imminent, and he’d have have to play catch-up to atone for lost time.

Rodgers leaned on newly appointed pass game coordinator and defensive backs coach Christian Parker for a crash-course. He would spend extra time, even off-field time, with Parker, texting and asking questions to absorb as much knowledge as possible.

The night before hitting the practice field for the first time as an Eagle, Rodgers immersed himself in the playbook to ensure a smooth transition.

The next day, he met with Parker on an additional two or three different occasions.

Rodgers cited Parker’s “connection with the room” for his optimism surrounding the team’s typically weaker cornerback group.

“Knowing his background and where he’s been. He knows the system like the back of his hand,” Rodgers said. “Just his knowledge and giving it to us, and allowing us to go out there and just play free and make plays.

“And the way he responds to the things we ask. He just relates in every aspect of the game, so he’s just helped us a lot on a personal level to actually make plays in his system.”

Isaiah Rodgers

GETTY IMAGES: Former Colts CB Isaiah Rodgers has mostly played outside corner in his career.

Presiding over the defense – which Rodgers hopes to factor prominently into – is veteran defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, an old-school, no-nonsense coach who demands proficiency and commands accountability.

Practice habits and consistency factor heavily into Fangio’s evaluations, which would appear to bode well so far for Rodgers, a spring standout.

Fangio, in his first season as Eagles defensive coordiantor, has already left an initial impression on Rodgers.

“Cool guy,” he said. “He’s always laughing, he’s always making jokes. And sometimes you don’t know if it’s a joke and you kind of just sit there.

“And then he’s like, ‘That was a joke.’ And then everybody starts laughing. But he’s a great guy, great personality. He’s gonna get us going pretty good.”

Rodgers’ support system has also extended to fellow cornerbacks Kelee Ringo, James Bradberry and Slay.

Any questions Rodgers has pondered – be it navigating the NovaCare Complex or soliciting for cheesesteak suggestions – they’ve all been helpful.

The highly intelligible Bradberry, whose locker is stationed right behind Rodgers’, has been a resource in breaking down the game and explaining in detail.

Ringo, whom Rodgers has established a close rapport in the early going, has been a valuable sounding board. The two players talk a lot, not necessarily rehashing splash plays, but plays they didn’t make but should have.

For example, while Rodgers and Ringo broke up several passes during the spring sessions, each would get on the other to finish those plays and convert them into interceptions.

They kept each other level-headed and perpetually fixated on the next snap, while also making sure to boost confidence.

Those unfamiliar with Rodgers’ career in Indianapolis might confused his 178-pound frame – a weight at which he said he’s most comfortable – for being ideal in the slot.

But the Eagles, who were familiar with his entire body of work, welcomed open dialogue with him and haven’t limited him to inside.

Thus far, his snaps have predominantly been on the outside.

“I just think it’s my resume from college,” he said. “I never played slot in high school or college or anything like that. So, knowing that I made a lot of plays on the outside and came into the league and continued to make those same plays on the outside, why change something that’s been going good for a player?

“I think that’s what makes this system so good for me. The coaches accept who each player is and they’re not trying to make you come in and say, ‘Well you’re this size, so you’re gonna play linebacker. You’re this size, we’re gonna put you at d-end.’

“They’re not trying to change anybody in this whole, entire system. They’re asking everyone, ‘Where do you play? Where do you wanna play? What’s your playing weight? Where do you feel comfortable at?'”

Rodgers has so far yet to exhibit traces of rust, instead showcasing short-area quickness, eye discipline, fluidity and top-tier instincts during the few open practices, the latter of which he attributed to his days of playing wide receiver and picking the brains of the receivers he trained against, enabling him to see the game from different perspectives.

If Rodgers can continue to master his assignments, break on balls, limit lapses and stack productive days, he’ll have an opportunity to nail down a starting spot opposite Slay.

For now, he’s intent on keeping his trajectory soaring.

“I’m just so anxious and ready to get out there and experience that moment again,” he said, adding that he’s working on “locking in on my playbook.

“Coming back as if I didn’t sit out for the last year and start to make plays actually with a helmet on and shoulder pads on. It’s not just a 7-on-7 game anymore. It’s about to be the real deal.”

Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.

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