Over the next few weeks of training camp, as the Eagles try to decide who to keep on their 53-man roster, we'll be catching up weekly with undrafted rookie linebacker T.J. Edwards from Wisconsin to track his progress as he tries to make the Eagles' roster.
Deep into the daily grind of training camp, T.J. Edwards has learned a trick.
It can't be all football.
Edwards has learned that, even if it's just 10 or 15 minutes to collect his thoughts in the cold tub, it's important to carve out some personal time.
"I think you have to," he said. "At first, I wasn't really doing that and I was losing my mind."
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Days during training camp are long and are as much of a mental grind as they are physical. Typically, Edwards wakes up around 7 a.m. and is at the facility by 7:20. He then gets ready for practice, which is normally at 9:15. After that there are special teams meetings, position meetings, walkthrough, team meetings and finally dinner.
On a normal day, he finally leaves the NovaCare Complex around 8:30 p.m.
"I always tell myself, ‘this is where you always wanted to be,'" Edwards said. "‘This is always what you envisioned for yourself. Now you're here, you can't stop working.' That's what I tell myself day to day. I get up and it's time to go to work."
During the little free time he's learned to carve out, he'll sometimes call home to his family in Wisconsin or he'll play video games. There are a few old-school video game systems at the facility, so he's been getting through the grind of training camp with an assist from an unlikely veteran: Super Smash Bros.
Luckily for Edwards (and for everyone, really) the monotony of training camp was broken up last week by the first preseason game. The Eagles sat all but a couple of their starters, but the game was a big deal for Edwards; it was his first in the NFL.
Edwards admitted there were some extra nerves going in, but that's to be expected. He played 55 snaps (just three Eagles played more on defense) and he had a couple tackles. He thought he played "OK" but knows there is room to improve.
He was just happy to get the first one out of the way.
"There was a lot of hype around the first game and stuff like that," Edwards said. "Now that I kind of got my feet wet more, I can anticipate more for this next one."
But for that first game, Edwards had some special visitors in the stands. Mom, dad, brother and sister made their way to Philly for the preseason opener and he even got to have dinner with them one night, an early birthday celebration.
Edwards turns 23 today.
He'll celebrate with the 14th training camp practice of the summer and another long day at the office. If he's lucky, he'll find some time to play Super Smash Bros, too.
Goal for next week: "I think there were some things that … I don't want to say undisciplined, but there were some things where I just wasn't myself. I just want to make sure I go in there and be 100 percent assignment sound. I don't want to have any MAs (missed assignments) next to my name next week."
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