Shelton Gibson Needs to Boost His Confidence to Boost His Play

There's no need to sugarcoat or pretend things have gone perfectly. 

They haven't. 

Through the first couple months of Shelton Gibson's NFL career, there have been more bad days than good, more dropped passes than impressive plays, more reasons for the coaching staff to wonder than to be encouraged. 

"He's coming along," head coach Doug Pederson said bluntly about Gibson on Monday after practice. "He's by no means where he wants to be or where we want him to be, but he's learning our system."

Gibson, for his part, agreed with that assessment. He didn't try to hide from his struggles. 

After a mostly lackluster spring, Gibson started his training camp on Monday morning with a few more drops during practice. 

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"It's just confidence," Gibson said about his dropped passes. "It's the only thing it is. Everything is about confidence. You go out there and know your plays, you're going to be confident." 

Gibson thinks learning his plays and getting extra reps will help him to get over the hump.

"This game is about how you can bounce back," he said in mid-June. 

At that time, it looked like Gibson was ready to bounce back. After a mostly disappointing spring, the last two days of the mandatory minicamp were a different story for the rookie fifth-round receiver. It seemed like he was turning a corner, not dropping as many passes and starting to make some plays. 

And while it seems like the long layoff between minicamp and training camp, after seemingly turning a corner, might have been tough for Gibson, he claimed it wasn't. In fact, getting a chance to go home to Ohio built his confidence up even more. 

"You know, you go back home, you're that guy," Gibson said. "When you come back here, you step back to reality."

Reality was a little harsh to him on Monday. But the good news is, there's plenty of time left in training camp. Plenty of time for him to master a playbook that's significantly different and more complex than the one he had at West Virginia. And plenty of time for him to start making plays. 

While Gibson has struggled since entering the NFL, his fellow rookie wideout Mack Hollins, who was drafted the round before Gibson, hasn't. In fact, Hollins has been pretty impressive so far. 

"We all have days where we drop balls," Hollins said. "You drop one and you drop another and then it's like nothing's working for you. Having teammates that just turn their backs, walk away and don't say anything, it doesn't make it any better. It doesn't matter if you're a rookie or a vet, being a good teammate is saying, 'Hey, you're good. You got it. You're here for a reason. 

"'Shelton, you got drafted for a reason. It's not like they just flipped a coin and said let's go to this name. You're here for a reason, because you can catch the ball and play well as a receiver.' Just encouraging him like that. The same way I would want it from him if I was having a bad day."

Aside from getting a chance to go home over the last month, Gibson also got a chance to join some of his fellow receivers in North Dakota for team workouts and bonding with quarterback Carson Wentz. 

The trip was beneficial in terms of Gibson's on-field progress, but also allowed him to become closer to some of his teammates and enjoy some new life experiences. 

Gibson tried a bison burger (it was good), ate seafood for the first time (he liked that even more) and attempted water sports on a lake.  

"I can't paddle board," Gibson said. "I suck at it."

But he thinks he can play receiver. And he has a couple weeks left of training camp to prove it to his coaches.  

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