Steve Nelson's introduction to Philadelphia has been a whirlwind.
Signed on Monday to a one-year, prove-it deal that could reach over $4 million with incentives, the former starter in Kansas City and Pittsburgh was thrust into that same role with the Eagles opposite Darius Slay on the outside of Jonathan Gannon's defense 48 hours later.
“It’s been a grind, man, I’ll say that,” Nelson said following Thursday's practice, a session in which he at least took a couple of breathers and tapped out for Craig James
“It’s Day 2, but it feels already like two weeks, just coming in and trying to get adjusted and learning on the fly. I knew it would be like that, [signing] this late in the process.”
Nelson talked about the physicality of the early sessions even though pads aren't in the mix yet, showing his bruised knuckles to reporters, a side-effect of trying to punch the football out and subscribe to defensive coordinator Jonathan's Gannon's HITS principle.
"Look at my knuckles already," Nelson smiled. "I think [the physicality] brings a good culture to the team and just what to expect for the season."
The veteran cornerback was essentially recruited by Slay and the organization's fan base which implored Nelson to consider the opportunity to start with the Eagles.
"Tremendous city," he said. "Fan base. It's outstanding. It's just a great opportunity for me. A new coaching staff We had a winning tradition within the players. I just liked the opportunity.
"That was one of the main reasons why I did come here. Just the passion the fans had for the team."'
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GM Howie Roseman was already on it and had kept a keen eye on Nelson dating back to his release by the Steelers back in March.
"Steve came on our radar right when he was let go from the Steelers," Roseman said when asked by SI.com's Eagle Maven on Wednesday. "A lot of respect for him and who he is as a person and as a player."
The talk around the league was that Nelson wanted a salary close to what he was on the books for in Pittsburgh before he was released which complicated matters.
"I mean, this guy is incredibly competitive and tough and instinctive," Roseman said. "I think this is another guy who sits there and goes, like, 'Why aren't I recognized as the kind of player that I am? I want to be recognized as the kind of player I am? I know there's going to be a lot of attention on who's playing opposite [CB] Darius [Slay], and I embrace that.'"
Nelson himself thought the timing was the issue.
"It was about the timing. The time of my release," he said. "Free agency, it's you know, it kinda doesn't work out the way you want it to at certain times so I definitely feel that people recognize me. As a player, I feel like it was just the timing."
A strong season will have Nelson on the market in 2022 in a better position to get what he wants from a contract standpoint. To get there the veteran has already started his homework, doing his due diligence on his new boss Gannon.
"I knew he was In Indianapolis so what I was doing was watching a little bit of Colts film and just seeing how that would be implemented here," said Nelson. "Just looking over the surface and seeing how ceratin things were run. Obviously, I didn't know the play calls and the terminology but I was just watching a lot of Colts film."
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The presence of Nelson should have a domino effect as well, finally allowing Avonte Maddox to move to the position he was drafted to play: slot cornerback. Over his first three seasons Maddox has been forced to play free safety and outside CB at times due to injury and perhaps poor planning.
“It’s good to get a vet in that knows a lot of ball,” Gannon said. “We just got to see what he’s comfortable with within our scheme and get him to play to his strengths."
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
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.