THE GOAL FOR rookies after the NFL draft is simple. Make the team.
Make it through the rookie minicamp, participate in the organized team activities and impress enough at training camp and in preseason action to make that final, 53-man roster.
Eagles second-round tight end Zach Ertz and seventh-round defensive back Jordan Poyer have to wait a little longer to start impressing the coaches due to an NFL rule that dates to 1990. The rule states that players cannot attend more than one minicamp until after final exams.
Other than the rookie minicamp that was held over the weekend, Poyer, who will graduate from Oregon State, will not be allowed to participate until June 10, and Ertz, who will get his degree from Stanford, will have to sit out until June 16.
They will miss the organized team activities that run from today through Wednesday. They each will have missed a total of seven team practices, which are key for rookies to show the coaches what they can do and how well they have picked up a new system.
Their absence placed more weight on what they did during the rookie minicamp. They had one chance until mid-June to convince the coaching staff that they are worthy of a spot on the depth chart.
Poyer did not look at the situation as pressure-packed, even though it might have been.
"It's not pressure," the 6-foot, 191-pound Poyer said Friday. "You come in here and you have to do what you have to do. You have prepared the whole offseason for this moment. You just gotta come in here and play. That's the bottom line. Just come in here and play, and show them what you can do. Show them that you can be a professional."
He did not underplay the importance of the rookie camp on his chances of making the team.
"It's definitely very important," Poyer said. "Just being able to come in here and show these coaches what I'm able to do on and off the field as far as being on time, and showing them I'm a responsible player. So it is very important to get in a rhythm, and get the schemes down that we are running, and be able to handle myself as a professional."
That made the rookie minicamp even more crucial for both Poyer and Ertz, as they have to pick up Chip Kelly's system very quickly, and mostly without the help of the coaching staff. They have to learn the schemes and sets on their own while still in school, which can be challenging.
"I wouldn't say it's a concern, but obviously it is not a plus, not being able to be out here with the team and not being able to practice with them," Poyer said. "I believe that when I come back I will be just as ready. I'll be a little bit behind with what they have installed and whatnot, but I think I can pick up defenses real quick and we'll go from there."
Ertz also realizes his disadvantage of missing team activities in May and early June.
"It's going to be tough at first," the 6-5, 249-pound Ertz. "I think all the reps I'm going to miss is going to be tough. But I think I'm going to get into the playbook as much as I can. All the stuff that I will get over the next 3 days, I will be learning that as much as I can. At the end of the day, it is what it is, and there's nothing I can really do about it.
"At the end of the day, we went to college to graduate. We were out there to get our degrees."
Both Ertz and Poyer have to go back to their respective universities to finish their college education before they can take the field for the Eagles again. That does not mean they are not working on their game, though. Poyer has a few influential people at Oregon State who will help him be ready for training camp.
"I have coach [Rod] Perry back at Oregon State," Poyer said of the secondary coach. "He coached at Indianapolis for a long time, he played in the NFL and has taught me a lot about the game. I think being able to stay on top of schemes, stay on top of the game.
"I understand schemes, but being able to work with him and watch film with him because he knows a lot about the game . . . So I think going home and still training like the way I have been training, I am in probably the best shape of my life right now, and just keep watching film and just staying on top of it."
Poyer also plans to work out with former teammate Markus Wheaton, who was drafted by the Steelers in the third round. He is a wide receiver, so they can work out against each other to help each other's game.
"We go against each other every day," Poyer said. "We do one-on-ones every single day. Being able to go against a guy like him is only going to make me better. We are going to keep going at it, getting after it, keep watching film and staying on top of the game."
Poyer is not the only member of the Eagles' secondary who has gone through this situation in the last few years. In the 2010 draft, the Eagles selected safety Kurt Coleman in the seventh round as well, and he also had to sit out because of his pending graduation from Ohio State. Poyer can look to Coleman for advice about the issue, as he overcame the disadvantage and became a starter.
"It would be nice to get a hold of him," Poyer said. "So you can put that out there and let him know I'm trying to get hold of him."
Coleman's advice would undoubtedly help both Poyer and Ertz in their quest to make the 53-man roster. Until then, it's back to school.