New Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby impressing at practice
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ronald Darby needed little time to make a strong impression.
The third-year cornerback acquired by the Philadelphia Eagles from the Buffalo Bills on Friday made a nifty interception during one-on-one drills Monday and knocked down another pass in the end zone a bit later.
“He’s a tremendous athlete,” coach Doug Pederson said.
Darby cost the Eagles a steep price. The team traded wide receiver Jordan Matthews and a 2018 third-round pick for him. Matthews was Philadelphia’s most productive receiver the past three seasons and a beloved team leader.
“It’s tough,” quarterback Carson Wentz said. “It’s my first time dealing with the business side of it.”
The Eagles were willing to move Matthews because they signed wideouts Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency and drafted Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson. They also have 2015 first-round pick Nelson Agholor and were concerned about keeping Matthews when he becomes a free agent after this season.
Darby, a second-round pick in 2015, is a significant upgrade at an important position. He’s been a starter for two seasons in Buffalo and seems to fit well in defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s system.
“Young player, skilled player, got some experience for a young player,” Schwartz said. “He’s started a lot of games. He’s an outside player for the most part. We’ve just got to get him up to speed as quick as we can and see the way it shakes out. But excited to have him.”
Darby is spending much of his time off the field trying to learn the defense.
“There’s a lot you have to learn,” he said. “You learn more each day. I’m in the meeting rooms a lot. I’ll be going home around 10.”
Darby also is trying to get a new number. He was assigned No. 35 when he arrived Saturday but is working on a way to get running back Wendell Smallwood to give up No. 28.
“This number is horrible,” he said. “I’m trying to get out of it as soon as possible.”
Darby will see familiar faces Thursday night when the Eagles host the Bills in a preseason game. Matthews injured his chest in his first practice with Buffalo so he won’t play.
“It’s awkward, of course, because just a few days ago I was eating lunch in their cafeteria,” Darby said. “It will be weird and a good feeling at the same time. I’m blessed to be playing ball.”
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