Rookie Elijah Qualls Doesn't Mind Being Coach's Whipping Boy

Chris Wilson is going to have to try harder if he wants to be the toughest coach Elijah Qualls has ever had. 

And Wilson is already trying pretty hard. 

Throughout training camp practices, Wilson's berating of Qualls has seemed like a near-daily occurrence. The sixth-round draft pick has become the unquestioned whipping boy of the summer. 

For Qualls, though, drawing the ire of Wilson hasn't been that bad. In fact, he said his stepfather DeJuan Miggins was his coach from the time he was 5 until he graduated high school. 

Qualls would get yelled at during practice, then go home to get yelled at some more. 

"At least here, it's like, I know if I go to a meeting, I know I'm probably going to be chewed out for this play or whatever and then I get to go home to silence and everything like that," Qualls said. "Having a parent as a coach, you don't get that peace. It's literally football every single moment." 

Qualls, 22, credits Miggins for preparing him for life in college and now in the NFL. He said Miggins knew what the standards were going to be at the next levels, so he held his stepson to extremely high standards. 

No matter what Wilson does or says to the rookie, Qualls thinks he'll be able to handle it. 

"While some of the stuff they say might get to me, it can never get to me like [Miggins] did," He said. "He prepared me for it."

It wasn't just Miggins who prepared Qualls for dealing with Wilson. He had plenty of other coaches throughout his football life who treated him the same way. 

Qualls sees the extra attention from Wilson as a good thing. He thinks Wilson sees the potential in him and simply holds him to a high standard. 

"If somebody's not coaching you, that's when you need to be worried," Qualls said. "Because then they just don't care at that point. You're just either a lost cause or honestly probably on your way out."

Some of the yelling Qualls has brought on himself. Veteran Gabe Wright, who joined the Eagles in the offseason, is now in his third season in the NFL and has been able to sit back and watch how the dynamic has unfolded. 

See, first-round pick Derek Barnett is about as laid-back as players come. When Wilson coaches him, Barnett takes it all in and never has a word to say back. Qualls has a different personality. 

"Some of that stuff, [Qualls will] learn from being a rookie," Wright said. "When to open his mouth, when not to say anything. He'll learn that. He'll learn that over the next couple weeks. He'll get tired of people being on him and stuff like that. … He'll learn. But he works hard and that will get attention way more than anything he could do off the field."

Even Qualls admitted he needs to sometimes just keep his mouth shut. Just this Monday he was at practice when Wilson corrected him on something. Qualls said, in his mind, he was just trying to explain what happened and how things looked from his point of view. 

Not a good idea. 

It took 10-year vet Chris Long's telling him it looked like he was talking back for him to get quiet. 

"Both of them knew I'm not trying to talk back," Qualls said. "I don't ever want to be disrespectful towards anybody. Sometimes being a rookie you just have to take the coaching and just go on about it. Still learning and guys are helping me a lot." 

While Qualls brought on some of the extra attention with his mouth, he wasn't performing well on the field either. He struggled early in training camp before hurting his groin during a 1-on-1 drill. That injury brought on a weird scene in which Wilson actually berated him while Qualls was still on the ground injured. 

The injury also forced Qualls out of action for three practices. That seems like a bad thing, but it actually helped him. 

"I was able to watch, not just on film, in person what the proper technique was supposed to look like," he said. "I'd just [watch the first team] because I didn't have to go in. I would see what they were doing and if it was the correct rep, Coach Wilson would be like, 'Good job.' If it wasn't, he would let them know and correct them on it. Being able to just watch those couple days helped me visualize what the right technique was supposed to look like. 

"And these past couple days, I put a couple good practices together. I feel like I actually understand what the correct technique is supposed to look like, what it's supposed to do, how you're supposed to do it. I think I'm starting to understand it a lot more. We're always trying to perfect it, but at this point, I think being consistent with it is the next step." 

As a sixth-round pick, Qualls isn't guaranteed a roster spot. And thanks to the silly NFL/NCAA rule for schools on quarters systems, Qualls was forced to miss most of the spring workouts while back in Washington. 

But Qualls has some talent and has potential as an interior pass-rusher. He thinks his lack of length contributed to how late he ended up going in the draft. He was taken with the 214th pick. 

Qualls thinks it all worked out though. He came to a team he wanted to go to, he's with his Huskies teammate Sidney Jones and he's getting great - albeit loud - coaching from Wilson. 

"It wasn't what I expected," Qualls said. "But honestly, I think it ended up being in the best position to put me in because it put a chip on my shoulder to prove that 213 people out of this class weren't better than me."

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