Shelton Gibson keeps building his confidence.
Ten minutes at a time.
That's about how long it takes for Gibson to drive to the NovaCare Complex each morning. That drive has become almost a ritualistic confidence-building exercise for the second-year receiver. Some days, he'll call his trainer back home to get some words of advice. Some days, he'll quietly reflect and talk to himself a little.
"Hey, every time you step onto this field, there's something that you have to prove," Gibson said, repeating his message to himself. "Why did they draft you? Why did you leave school early? I had a lot of things that I tell myself."
Some days, he'll listen to music. He likes to listen to Gospel on those trips in - Kirk Franklin is a favorite.
Ten minutes isn't a long time, but it's long enough.
"It's enough for three songs," Gibson said with a smile.
Gibson, 23, has been smiling a lot more this summer. Really, he's been a completely different player than the one we saw struggle his way through training camp and the preseason as a rookie. He's come so far that on Thursday night, he didn't even play in the fourth and final preseason game. He has a roster spot on lock, and has for a while.
Now, it's time to wonder if he actually deserves a role in the offense. He probably does.
Alshon Jeffery will reportedly miss a couple weeks to start the season, so there's some opportunity at the jump. And while Mack Hollins had a rough summer after reportedly having sports hernia surgery this offseason, it might be time for Gibson to fill the void. After seeing him this preseason, it looks like he's ready.
Of course, playing in the preseason is a lot different than playing when the games count. In last year's regular season, Gibson played just 17 offensive snaps and had just two catches for 11 yards.
So how does he duplicate preseason success in the regular season?
"Have that same mindset, that same passion every time you go out there," Gibson said. "I know it's going to be different when it comes to the games and everything. Everything is going to be more physical. But I just gotta turn it up a notch."
The Eagles showed a ton of patience in Gibson, a fifth-round pick, last summer. They had confidence in him when he didn't have confidence in himself.
"Last year, I just felt like I didn't give them my all and I wasn't confident," he said. "But they were confident in me. I felt like I let them down a little bit."
So this season for Gibson is all about trying to repay the organization for their faith in him.
That all starts with confidence. Gibson says confidence is "everything." And for him, it starts on that 10-minute drive every morning.
"It wakes you up," he said. "You don't want to just drive in there, ‘oh why do I have to come in?' You want to come in there and show the coaches that you want to be here. That you're excited to be there every day instead of ‘oh this is another day of work.' I'm having fun."