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Jalen Mills expects to be tested often by Bears

Jalen Mills knows he will be a target on Monday. A seventh-round draft pick who is expected to receive significant playing time, Mills will be matched up against the Chicago Bears' top wide receivers. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler will likely look in his direction - and by the end of the night, it will be clear whether the Eagles' confidence in Mills is valid.

Jalen Mills knows he will be a target on Monday. A seventh-round draft pick who is expected to receive significant playing time, Mills will be matched up against the Chicago Bears' top wide receivers. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler will likely look in his direction - and by the end of the night, it will be clear whether the Eagles' confidence in Mills is valid.

"He showed up ready, to be honest," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "At least in his mind. I think that's the biggest thing on the outside as a corner: You've got to have really tough skin and a lot of confidence. The rest will kind of come. . . . The one thing he showed us and that nobody had to coach him on was confidence."

With Leodis McKelvin out this week, the Eagles enter Monday with only three healthy cornerbacks: Nolan Carroll, Ron Brooks, and Mills. Coach Doug Pederson said Carroll and Brooks will start, with Mills playing on the outside and bouncing Brooks to the slot in nickel situations. Last week, the Eagles were in nickel for the majority of the game, so Mills will play a major role.

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said the Eagles could also use safeties Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, and Jaylen Watkins at cornerback when needed, but Monday will nonetheless be a major test for Mills.

Mills said playing in the Southeastern Conference, where he was a four-year starter at LSU, prepared him for this stage. He saw wide receivers such as Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry in practice, and Amari Cooper, Laquon Treadwell, and Mike Evans in games. So Chicago's Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White will be a challenge, but they won't be the first time Mills has seen receivers of that caliber.

Jenkins said the key for Mills will be keeping the ball in front of him. The Bears receivers might make acrobatic catches when they're covered, but that's better than getting beaten deep.

Even though Mills was a seventh-round pick, the Eagles haven't treated him like one this summer. They moved him up on the depth chart past 2015 second-round pick Eric Rowe. Schwartz said Mills' emergence made Rowe expendable, and even with only three cornerbacks active, Pederson said he does not regret trading Rowe. That's because the Eagles think Mills belongs on the field.

"When we're on the field, it's the 11 best guys on the field," Mills said. "It's not a seventh-round here, third-round here, first-round here. It's the best 11 guys."

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