The Eagles are trying something new in the absence of Malcolm Jenkins, and former cornerback Jalen Mills will line up at safety in 2020. And while it’s a new position for him in Philly, he has some experience from college. Mill spoke to the media on Thursday about getting prepared for his new role, the offseason, and training camp during a pandemic.
He is excited for the potential of this year’s Eagles’ secondary, and said that while it’s weird meeting some of his new teammates for the first time virtually, they already have a good rapport and joke around a lot.
Here’s what Mills had to say:
On his switch to safety
Mills pointed out that he had played safety for two years at LSU, so it wasn’t completely new to him. As far as the competition, going against the Eagles’ offense — including, “arguably, if not the best, one of the best tight ends in the NFL, in Zach Ertz” — helps get him prepared despite the lack on on-field time this offseason and preseason games.
He further explained that some of the biggest differences in corner and safety is the tactical stuff, but nothing he can’t handle. Mills noted that the communication part was also something he’s adding to his game, and making sure that not only does he get the call from the sideline, but that everyone around him gets it too and is on the same page.
Mills also worked a lot this offseason with Rodney McLeod, specifically on the communication aspect of his new role. He wanted to learn exactly how McLeod had been communicating in that role and adapt to that, because he’s been successful with it. Mills wanted to make sure that McLeod could still play fast, and wanted to be sure he was using the same verbiage on the back end.
On the offseason
Aside from the pandemic, this offseason is different for Mills who spent this time in 2019 trying to rehab and get ready to get back on the field. Now, he’s in the shape, and he’s not worried about PUP or IR, or the physical and mental parts.
Later on, Mills also admitted that he thinks about the Seahawks game from last season every day, and just knowing how close the playoffs are to the Super Bowl — that loss hurt. But, the takeaway for him, was for the group to be themselves, embrace their identity as a team and as a defense. They know that this year will be different, as it always is, and they need to find out who they are, and then stick with it.
On COVID precautions
“We are a family at the end of the day, right. We call ourselves a family, we say the person to the left and to the right of us, is our brother, so at the end of the day we have to treat it as such. You don’t want to bring in anything, as far as this COVID situation, into your house. We have to treat this facility as if it is our house.”
So, when they do leave the facility and have to go somewhere, like the grocery store, Mills said they need to be wearing a mask, and they need to have hand sanitizer. They need to wash their hands, and just be safe whenever they’re not in the building.
Mills said that with all the protocols in place around the facility, and how directly the training staff has been talking to the team this offseason, the players know and can tell how serious this is, and how one outbreak could derail part of the season.