The competition for the Eagles' nickel cornerback job is wide open, but the favorites for the vacancy had been Jalen Mills, Avonte Maddox and Sidney Jones.
Until Tuesday, when Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz added a dark horse candidate to the mix: De'Vante Bausby.
The inclusion on a list of players getting a legitimate look in the slot is unexpected. Mills is already a starter, and Maddox and Jones were high draft picks. Bausby is on his third NFL team since going undrafted out of Pittsburg State in 2015, has appeared in only four games as a pro and spent last season on the Eagles' practice squad following his September release from the Chiefs.
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Despite his lack of pedigree, the Eagles liked what they saw from the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Bausby.
"He was ready to play for us last year if need be," Schwartz said. "He did a great job not just on the practice field, but in the meeting room, being up on the game plan. We were fortunate that we didn't have so many injuries there that he needed to go, but he was ready, and he had the confidence of the coaching staff.
"He sort of spread his wings a little bit, working in some different positions. He's a very, very competitive player. He's got good size, but his competitiveness stands out. You guys will see that."
Schwartz went on to praise Bausby's work with the scout team.
"His contributions were behind the scenes last year, but we have a lot of guys that have an impact on Sunday that might not be playing," Schwartz said. "He worked the offense hard. I think those guys have respect for him, and I know our coaches have respect for him."
Thanks to his efforts with the practice squad, Bausby has created a path to a spot on the Eagles' 53-man roster – and he doesn't plan on letting the opportunity slip away. Realizing there was an opening for a slot corner, the 25-year-old spent the offseason learning the ins and outs of the position.
Bausby even went so far as to contact Patrick Robinson on multiple occasions since the veteran vacated the job when he signed with the Saints in March.
"We had a hole in the defense when he left, so we needed a nickel," Bausby said. "I was studying real hard with the film this offseason, and any question I had, I would give him a call.
"I met up with him twice. I asked him, ‘Why do you do this? Why do you do that? How did you do this or how should I do that,' and he just filled me in."
Though the vast majority of his NFL experience is on the outside, Bausby is adapting quickly to life on the inside.
"It's me vs. you," said Bausby. "I'm just going to keep it that simple and try to deny you the ball. That's it."
It's been a long road to get back to this point for Bausby, who admits the practice squad was hard at first. He got a taste of real game action in 2016, appearing in four games for the Bears and playing significant snaps in two, but fell out of favor and has been trying to find his footing in the league ever since.
Bausby will get one more shot at cracking the lineup with the Eagles in training camp this summer – and from the sound of things, he's earned it.
"You just have to know there's a light at the end of tunnel," Bausby said. "Keep your head down, keep grinding and stay patient and good things will come in the end."