Early Birds: Tall CBs, Boykin vs. Baldwin, Cole on McCoy
**Both the Eagles and the Seahawks look for similar types of cornerbacks: tall, long, physical players. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is the prototype. The problem is they are hard to find.
"For years, way back in my college days, I've been looking for guys that have this kind of stature so they can have this kind of effect on receivers," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "It's really rare to find tall corners and long guys with real good arm length and wingspan that can run fast enough and play. …It's all about trying to play really strong man-to-man coverage on the edge and the outside. And the bigger the guys are, the more [of a] factor they can play when guys are trying to get off the line of scrimmage when it comes time when the ball is coming in."
Carroll said that Eagles cornerbacks Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams fit the style. Williams pointed out that not all teams want that type of player – some prefer small, shiftier cornerbacks. But for teams that feature man-to-man coverage like Carroll referenced, the size is a major advantage.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who coached against Sherman in college, did not understand how Sherman fell to the fifth round. Even in college, when Sherman was not a big name, Kelly thought Sherman fit the prototype for the NFL.
"I thought he was a really good player in college," Kelly said. "I always thought he was a prototypical NFL corner because of his size. I think the unique thing about Richard is that he played wide receiver to start his career and I think that's a part of one of the reasons he has such good ball skills and has such good anticipation. He's obviously an extremely intelligent player. He's got a great knowledge of what offenses are trying to do to him. He was a good player. …Ask most college coaches and they will say they don't understand why guys got drafted where they got drafted."
**The Seahawks' top wide receiver is Doug Baldwin, who plays the slot. That means Brandon Boykin will have the responsibility of stopping the No. 1 option. Boykin cited Larry Fitzgerald and Victor Cruz as examples of top receivers who play the slot, but they move around more than Baldwin, who has 48 catches for 519 yards this season.
"He's around my build, my stature, which is a little different for me," Boykin said. "Normally, I face guys who are a little bigger than me. But I think he's quick, a pretty good route runner, plays hard, and has really good yard-after-catch ability."
Baldwin is likely not the type of wide receiver who will take over a game, and one of Boykin's responsibilities will be to stay with him when quarterback Russell Wilson extends plays. Boykin must know when to stay on his man before peeling off coverage.
"You kind of got a clock in head, and any time a guy is running for four, five seconds, you know to plaster to stay on your guy because he's probably scrambling around trying to find someone," Boykin said. "And he has the ability to throw the ball while he's running. It'll be like any game when we've had a guy who can run, like a Cam [Newton] or an RG3, where it's important you stay on your guy all play."
**Trent Cole has been in Philadelphia throughout LeSean McCoy's career and has been on the sideline for every one of McCoy's 6,491 career rushing yards. If McCoy rushes for 48 more yards, he will break Wilbert Montgomery's franchise record.
Cole said McCoy reminds him of another former teammate: Brian Westbrook, who is No. 3 on the franchise's all-time rushing list.
"He would always make the first guy miss," Cole said of Westbrook. "[McCoy] is gifted. He runs hard. You've got to give it to him. The man has done a lot for the Eagles."