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It’s Eagles at Browns tonight in the third preseason game of 2018, and the Super Bowl champs have an important and highly competitive position battle raging at slot corner – keep an eye on that tonight. The competitors are second-year corner Sidney Jones, coming off an Achilles injury, and rookie Avonte Maddox.

Avonte Maddox Photo: Kiel Leggere/Philadelphia Eagles

Earlier this summer in this SJ Magazine blog, I told you that Maddox was impressive and the coaches liked him a lot. In training camp, he’s been explosive and tough, and around the football, all the time.

But I never thought he’d seriously challenge the highly regarded Jones, who – if he didn’t get injured before the 2017 draft – was considered by many football experts to be a first-round pick. He slid to the second round and the Eagles traded up to get him, gambling that he would revert to the kind of talent worthy of first-round status.

Right now, Jones is still trying to beat out Maddox, a fourth-round pick out of Pittsburgh who is listed as just 5-foot-9. Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby seem to be cemented in the starting outside corner jobs. Rasul Douglas and De’Vante Bausby, who is also having a terrific camp, give the Eagles excellent depth at the critical position of cornerback.

But why is slot corner just an important job? Well, like a lot of teams, the Eagles line up nearly 60 percent of the time in what is called “nickel defense,” shorthand for having five defensive backs on the field to defend against the passing game.

So tonight, you will hear a lot from color commentator Mike Mayock on the Eagles preseason broadcast about slot corner. And the battle between Maddox and Jones is about as real as it gets.

 

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