When Michael Jacquet took the field for his first NFL snaps, he was subjected to constant reminders from his veteran teammates.
The undrafted rookie cornerback went in for Darius Slay during the Eagles' 23-9 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 1, and players such as Rodney McLeod were making sure he was up to speed. Eventually, the former Louisiana-Lafayette standout had to tell them they didn’t need to worry about him.
Jacquet’s production in his NFL debut backed him up. He was targeted three times and allowed just one catch for 11 yards to go along with four tackles.
“He stepped in and had to fill some big shoes,” McLeod said. “Slay goes down, and now he’s asked to come in [for] a meaningful game with our season on the line, and he didn’t blink. And continually out there, he’ll tell you, he was saying, ‘Bro, I got this. I’m good. Like, you don’t have to tell me everything.’ And that’s what you want to see from a rookie: a guy like himself who’s confident, and he made plays.”
The 23-year-old, who signed with the Eagles before training camp, was waived before the season started but was added to the practice squad later in September. He was added to the active roster for the Cowboys game becausean injury to Cre’Von LeBlanc left the team thin at corner. There’s a chance he could join players such as LeBlanc, Travis Fulgham, and Greg Ward as practice-squad promotions to find success with the Eagles.
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said it was easy to forget the team was relying on an undrafted rookie to fill Slay’s shoes during the Cowboys game.
“I think probably the best way to put it is you really didn’t notice he was out there,” Schwartz said. “If you’re a corner, that’s not necessarily a bad thing."
Jacquet is still relatively new to the position. The Beaumont, Texas, native played quarterback in high school and was a wide receiver during his first two seasons at Louisiana-Lafayette. He switched to corner before his junior season and started 27 games over two years, recording four interceptions and 18 pass breakups.
He said he’s made significant strides since the summer.
“Being in the NFL, it makes you progress fast, or you’ll just get left behind," Jacquet said. "I know I’ve put in the work, put in [a lot of] time just trying to change my playing style from having receiver tendencies to going back to having corner tendencies. I’m a way different corner today than I was at the beginning of training camp.”
Although it was a strong debut, there was at least one play from the Cowboys game Jacquet would like to have back. With 15 seconds left in the first half, Jacquet had a chance at his first career interception. But he dropped the errant pass from Dallas quarterback Ben DiNucci.
Jacquet drew plenty of praise from his coaches and teammates, but that didn’t spare him some jokes during the team’s film review session.
“On the field, [McLeod] was giving me a hard time,” Jacquet said. “Once I got to the sideline, Slay was clowning me, and then when we got to the film [room], Slay kept clowning me.”
Fletcher Cox missed Friday’s practice with a non-COVID-related illness but is expected to play Sunday. The defensive tackle also missed Wednesday’s practice for rest.
The Eagles will be without cornerback Craig James, who will miss his second game with a hamstring injury. The team will also be without defensive assistant coach Jeremiah Washburn because of an illness.
The team has until Saturday to activate offensive guard Isaac Seumalo off injured reserve. He has been out with a knee injury sustained in Week 2. Seumalo practiced all week, but coach Doug Pederson said the starting left guard wasn’t a full participant.