Eagles’ Jalen Mills thrust into top cornerback spot
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jalen Mills has the swagger and the look of a No. 1 cornerback.
A seventh-round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles a year ago, Mills isn’t just the guy with the green hair anymore. He’s suddenly the top cornerback after Ronald Darby went down with an ankle injury last week.
Mills is ready for the role.
“I’ve always been a competitor,” Mills said. “The guys who want to be the best play a lot of years.”
Mills recorded his first career interception in a 30-17 win at Washington in Week 1. He helped the secondary shut down Kirk Cousins and a potent Redskins offense despite losing Darby early in the game.
“Jalen has done an outstanding job to be in the position that he’s in,” coach Doug Pederson said.
Mills and the rest of Philadelphia’s defense have a tough task covering Tyreek Hill on Sunday when the Eagles visit the Kansas City Chiefs. Hill has a touchdown of 60-plus yards in five consecutive games. The Chiefs racked up 537 yards in a 42-27 win against Super Bowl champion New England in their opener.
“You have to trust yourself regardless,” Mills said. “They get paid to catch the ball. But you’ve got to compete every play.”
The loss of Darby, who plans to return within six weeks, leaves Philadelphia thin at cornerback. Veteran Patrick Robinson is expected to start and rookie Rasul Douglas, newcomer Dexter McDougle and safety-turned-cornerback Jaylen Watkins also could see reps at the nickel spot.
Douglas, a third-round pick, was inactive against the Redskins.
“He made a lot of strides from the beginning of training camp until the end of training camp,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “Very competitive. He’s long, he can get his hands on the football and he’s tough. He’ll tackle.”
Watkins is eager to help at a new position.
“You just have to embrace whatever they put in front of you and make the best of it,” he said.
INJURIES: Rookie running back Donnel Humphrey tore his right hamstring in practice and will miss significant time. Humphrey, a fourth-round pick, was inactive for the opener. It’s possible the injury will end his season. “It’ll set him back because he won’t be able to run and do all the things that we want him to do,” Pederson said. “It’s unfortunate. We know it’s part of the game. But we’ll keep him plugged in, in the meeting rooms and around the team.”