Kelli Gerry can breathe a sigh of relief.
If her son Nate were back in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, right now, he'd probably be eating mom and dad out of a house and home. The Eagles can withstand the one-man eating vortex.
Since he first arrived at the NovaCare Complex as a fifth-round pick this spring, Gerry has gone from 212 pounds to 228. That's 16 pounds in a little over a month!
How did he do it?
"Just eating a little more," Gerry (pronounced Gary) said. "Being here surrounded by food is a little easier. I don't have to get on my mom for cooking all the time. The weight room is right there. It's nice having everything in one facility. Just staying on my diet, I think that's helped a lot."
Gerry, 22, put on the weight because he's switching positions. While he played safety in college at Nebraska, the rookie was drafted as a linebacker and that's where the Eagles plan on using him.
Through the spring, he has been playing at both outside linebacker positions (weakside and strongside) as well as playing on all four special teams units.
How is the transition going so far?
"Really good. Really good," head coach Doug Pederson said. "He's a smart kid. It's definitely a different role for him. He is comfortable, however, around the line of scrimmage because he's played down as a safety. Now he's playing more in the box and there is a lot more happening there from a linebacker's position.
"But he's done a good job. He's a hard worker; he's smart; he's instinctive. You know, it will be interesting to put the pads on in July and August and see, physically, where he's at."
As he learns both of the Eagles' outside linebacker positions, Gerry said veteran Nigel Bradham has been integral in his progression. Bradham, who has experience in Jim Schwartz's defense even before last year in Philly, has been helping him with alignments and constantly giving him tips.
On a conference call minutes after he was drafted, Gerry said he anticipated the toughest part of the transition would be simply being closer to the line of scrimmage as a linebacker.
Turns out, he was right.
"Yeah, that's probably the only thing for me that's been a little different," Gerry said this week. "Football's football, but being five yards, six yards closer to the ball, things just happen fast. Just being able to react and make the right decisions with a little bit more quickness. So far, that's probably the only thing that has jumped out to me as being different."
At 228 pounds, Gerry is much bigger than when he arrived and much bigger than his listed weight (218), but he's still one of the lightest linebackers on the roster. Only special teamer Kamu Grugier-Hill (220) is listed lighter. Gerry said he's at a good weight and doesn't want to put on too many pounds because his strength, as he sees it, is his speed.
It's possible the Eagles might eventually find a way to use Gerry as a linebacker/safety hybrid, and he said they've had some talks about it, but for now, the team wants him focused on learning the WILL and SAM.
And focused on special teams.
He is a part of all four special teams groups and if Gerry wants to make the roster, he'll need to be a contributor in that arena.
Gerry has been doing his best to balance learning a new position and becoming a key cog for Dave Fipp's highly regarded special teams units.
"We get a lot of time off out of this place and [special teams is] what everybody harps on," Gerry said. "If you want to make the team, you gotta get in on special teams. I put a priority first on that, but at the end of the day, I still have to learn the linebacker position. I still have to learn the scheme of the defense. Doing both, I think I've learned a lot more about the game of football, too. I think that's helped with my football IQ."