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.
There were a lot of laughs last Thursday at the NovaCare Complex as T.J. Edwards powered through what he called an "ugly" performance of T-Pain's "Buy U A Drank" as a part of the Eagles' ongoing rookie talent show.
Edwards couldn't hear the music, got off beat and it went downhill in a hurry. There were some boos - all in good fun.
"I got a couple, which is fair," Edwards said laughing this weekend. "I don't blame them. I don't blame them at all."
The next day, Edwards was given a harsh reminder of just how brutal this business can be.
On Friday, a rare off day during the early training camp schedule, Edwards and his roommate Joey Alfieri were at the NovaCare Complex using the hot and cold tubs. The two had grown close over the last few months as fellow undrafted rookie linebackers and roommates. They were going to lunch when a staff member fetched Alfieri to take him to hear the news no NFL player wants to hear.
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"I kind of really saw it first-hand," Edwards said.
The Eagles made a few roster moves on Friday, bringing in two players for the start of the next day's practice. To make room, Alfieri was waived. So on Saturday, as Edwards suited up for practice, Alfieri's football future was up in the air. (He was claimed by the division-rival Giants on Saturday.)
Since Friday was an off day, at least the two new friends had a chance to say goodbye.
"That's my first experience with all that," Edwards said. "It's tough. We became pretty close. We were going through all the same things, but I'm sure he'll end up on his feet somewhere."
It's not like Edwards needed a reminder that the NFL is a business; he's been taught that repeatedly for a long time. But seeing up close is different.
Edwards thought his first practice since all that went down went pretty well on Saturday. He was able to make some plays and continues to feel more comfortable in the defense.
The Eagles will kick off their preseason schedule on Thursday at home against the Titans and Edwards can't wait. It feels like "forever" since he last played in a game - a 35-3 Wisconsin win over Miami in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 27. Edwards plans to keep the same routine he used in college. The night before he'll talk to his mom and dad on the phone and then pretty much cut off any communication until game time as he locks in.
He's also hoping that preseason game is the only performance he'll have to worry about this week. Some rookies who failed during their talent show performances have been forced to go again. Edwards hopes the fact that he pushed through his song is enough to warrant a one-and-done.
"If I gotta learn something else, so be it," he said. "But I haven't heard yet, so I'm hoping they'll just forget about it."
Goal for next week: "I haven't made that big play yet. Not that I'm trying to force those things or anything like that, but it's something that the linebackers do really well here. I think in order to do that, in order to fit in with that group, I have to start doing that as well. But I think that will come with more and more confidence. I'm excited to see what happens."
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