PHILADELPHIA – Avonte Maddox isn’t quite sure what he will be in Jonathan Gannon’s defense.
Will he play outside, in the slot, or even at safety?
“I don’t know,” he said. “Wherever I’m needed, I’m always willing to play outside, inside, back end, that’s why I say (Gannon’s) schemes are very great in the way I want to learn everything. “
The Eagles defensive back does know that there is talk about the possibility of bringing in a veteran corner at some point between now and the season opener in Atlanta on Sept. 12.
SI.com Eagle Maven asked him about that and what he sees when he looks at the CB room during his videoconference on Tuesday afternoon.
“I see a bunch of great-looking guys that are ready to go out there and compete, work hard, compete with each other, hold each other accountable,” said Maddox. “This backend is good. And we still have guys in here… I’m rocking with whoever we have in there and whoever we bring in. I’m happy for it, I’m ready for it, I’m ready to teach it.”
The Eagles’ hunt for another cornerback, one with perhaps some experience, is because Maddox never quite matched up well on the outside.
He was, however, hampered by injury, missing three October games with an ankle issue then ending his season on Injured Reserve with a knee problem that forced him to miss the final three games.
“My confidence is sky high, stepping on and off the field no matter what anyone says to me,” said Maddox. “I’m going to make sure I can be the best player I can be and if I’m not doing as well, I’m going to hold myself accountable and I expect everyone else to hold me accountable for it as well.
“Me being me I’m finding the things I need to fix. I’m working on the things I need to do to get better. I’m going to come out this year and it will be way better than last year because I’m going to get things right on my end and help the team as much as I can.”
Don’t look now but Maddox is one of the senior members of the Eagles’ secondary.
After CB Darius Slay and safety Rodney McLeod, he is next in terms of senior leadership. There is also Anthony Harris, but he is in his first season in Philadelphia after signing a one-year free-agent deal earlier this offseason.
Maddox met Harris after the Eagles signed the safety from the Vikings while they trained together in Florida. Even though Harris hasn’t been here long, he has played in a Gannon-based defensive system, so Maddox is leaning on him a bit.
“When I’m talking to JG (Gannon), I see Ant standing right next to me and I say, ‘Hey Ant, get me right,’” said Maddox. “Whenever I have a question about this defense, I always go up to Ant and ask him, ‘What do you see here?’ or, ‘What would you do here?’ because he has a lot of experience playing in the back end with this defensive scheme and that’s a great, great add for our defense.”
When Harris isn’t around, Maddox’s pen and notebook are always at the ready.
“I just pay attention as much as I can in these meetings,” he said. “...taking notes everywhere because you never know. Players move around the secondary and I pride myself in learning all positions.”
While he keeps his ears open, Maddox is learning about his eyes, or as he said when asked about the one thing he wants to improve on most from 2020, “Eyes, eyes, eyes, eyes.”
New DB coach Dennard Wilson and assistant DB coach D.K. McDonald preach using your eyes constantly because they will take a player where he needs to go.
“You get your eyes in the right spot, you can’t be beaten,” said Maddox. “You won’t be missing out on big plays you can make. That’s one thing I tell myself, I probably write it down in my book every day -eyes, eyes, eyes.
"I go out in the field - eyes, eyes, eyes. Other than that, little things on technique on the line or at the top of a route, but eyes I feel are the biggest thing.”
Right now, Maddox is still trying to open his coaches’ eyes as to where he may line up in this year’s version of the Eagles’ defense.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.