PHILADELPHIA — When people ask me who the best player at Eagles’ training camp has been, the default has been A.J. Brown on the offensive side and James Bradberry on the defense, which seems counterintuitive but perhaps it makes all the sense in the world.
The Eagles’ social media team even picked up on that thought with a post after Wednesday morning’s practice.
Earlier in the week, SI Eagles Today happened to ask Brown about how working against two of the NFL’s top CBs every day at practice sharpens his game.
“Most definitely (helps)," he said. "Both of them are different. Both of them are really talented."
The highest praise, as it typically is, was saved for Darius Slay, the four-time Pro Bowl selection who is at the top of any list of best cover corners.
“I think one’s probably like top 10, Slay. He’s really tough,” Brown said. “ Both of them are really talented, like I said. But whenever I’m going against Slay, I know I gotta be precise. Every step matters. Pad level matters. And I gotta be clean out of the break. If I don’t, it’s going to go the other way.”
Slay reciprocated things.
“It’s been great" he said. "We’ve been competing at a high level. He’s just competitive. He’s a great guy. We’re teaching each other how to play different positions, how to guard each other, and he’s a big physical guy.”
There is a bit of a yin and yang when it comes to the speedy Slay and the powerful Brown.
“I needed help with big physical guys," said Slay. "He needs help with a lot of fast guys, so we’re helping each other out. Man, he’s real good. Here’s making all the tough catches. He turns 50-50 ball to 70-30. He’s very challenging. He’s getting me better every day and I’m going to continue to try to get him better.”
Brown also noted Bradberry, a former Pro Bowler in 2020 himself, is very similar to Slay when it comes to savviness and is even longer, something which can really affect receivers, even king-sized ones like Brown.
“He’s a longer corner,” Brown said of Bradberry. “He does a great job with his hands. It’s the same way. I gotta be on my game.”
Bradberry, meanwhile, is cognizant of what the Eagles’ receivers as a whole a providing him.
“It’s definitely a benefit,” Bradberry said of going against the WR room. “Of course, you got your physical guys [Brown]. You got your fast guys [Quez Watkins], your quicker guys [DeVonta Smith]. It helps you hone in on your craft, and also, I’m able to strategize a little more at who I’m going against, so it makes me think more when I’m on the field and I line up.”
Iron sharpens iron is one of those overused NFL cliches you’ll see popping up in 32 different camps this time of year but every once in a while, the sentiment is real.
“Going against these guys in practice," said Brown, "it just helps us for who we’re playing against. I really get my best work each and every day in practice.”
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Sports. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talker Jody McDonald, every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube.com and JAKIBSports.com. You can reach John at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen