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Avonte Maddox stepping up in Eagles camp

The former Pitt standout is fighting for a roster spot

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox, a former four-year starter at Pitt, saw his first NFL action last week in an exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. The fourth-round pick made the most of his trip back to his old stomping ground, too, as he broke up what would have been a touchdown pass from Mason Rudolph to Damoun Patterson.

While that didn’t garner Maddox anything more than a passing word of praise from the commentators last Thursday night, his name has appeared in headlines with increasing frequency ever since, as his performance during the Eagles’ preseason training camp has impressed his coaches, most notably Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.

“I think if you look at his trend line, he’s trending up, which is a good sign,” Schwartz said in a press conference on Sunday. “He’s very competitive. He’s been playing inside and outside. That’s potentially something he might have to do. Maybe not, we’ll see. But he’s also done a really good job – I don’t want to speak for [special teams coordinator Dave] Fipp – but he’s done a really good job on special teams. We like where he’s been so far.”

Maddox has been taking reps with the first-team defense and distinguishing himself within a crowded position group that currently includes De’Vante Bausby, Ronald Darby, Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones, D.J. Killings, Jalen Mills and Chandon Sullivan. Maddox talked about his experience alongside some of the starters from last year’s Super Bowl after a recent practice.

“You’re out there with the Super Bowl champions on the field. It’s just a different vibe,” Maddox said, per Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “They just communicate a lot, they know what’s going on. You’ve got a lot more help in the back, and you feel like a lot more [comfortable].”

With all that said, Bowen also noted that Darby, Mills and Jones “have been the top three corners in this training camp,” while Bausby has been “alternating in the nickel spot with Jones.” Douglas also played in 14 games and started five as a rookie last season.

Given the stiff competition, it seems Maddox will have to keep contributing at this level in order to carve himself out a spot on the Eagles’ final roster.