After finally turning a corner, Eagles' Shelton Gibson hopes to keep it going

After finally turning a corner, Eagles' Shelton Gibson hopes to keep it going

It was something Eagles wide receiver Shelton Gibson started doing while in college at West Virginia. 

It was a little way for him to keep his focus. 

Gibson would scribble the words "What are you going to do to be great today?" on a notepad and put it on the dashboard of his car to serve as a near-constant reminder. 

"And every time you get into your car, you see it," Gibson said Thursday. "You sit there in the car and you think. Where am I driving to right now? Am I driving to go to the field or am I driving to go see a girl or something?"

The notepad will be back on the dash over the next month and a half before training camp, as the fifth-rounder tries to keep his momentum going in the right direction after a solid last two days of the mandatory minicamp. 

Those last two days were very much needed.

Before the penultimate practice, this spring hadn't exactly gone to plan for Gibson. By his own admission, he was struggling greatly, and it was pretty evident for those who watched him play during OTAs. He dropped pass after pass, wasn't running crisp routes and looked like he just wasn't ready to be in the NFL. 

"It's definitely tough. It's never going to be easy," Gibson said. "This game is about how you can bounce back. There's always a learning curve. Whether it's your first year of high school or your first year in college or in the NFL, you always have a learning curve."

But something happened recently that turned everything around for Gibson — at least he hopes. During Wednesday's practice, he caught a ball in heavy traffic during a team portion of practice. A few minutes later, he made another tough catch. Then Thursday, he didn't seem to be in over his head anymore. 

Gibson said receivers coach Mike Groh gave him a different way to learn his plays. Instead of just learning his "X" receiver position, Groh gave him a new way to write down the plays and learn all the receiver spots, from one side of the field to the other. 

This new method helped Gibson understand the offense better and helped him slow everything down. 

"It's just like, I gotta slow it down," he said. "I always play fast and even when I run out there 100 miles per hour, if I'm doing the wrong assignments, then that's not a good thing. Even with catching the ball, I was so thrown off by 'oh I have to run right here, am I in the right split, running the right depth' and then I just get lost. That's what I was saying, I just have to sit down, slow down and focus." 

Gibson isn't the first player to come to spring practices and struggle and he certainly won't be the last. But as a receiver, his problems were much more noticeable than from players at other positions. 

Head coach Doug Pederson said the best way to help a struggling rookie is to "define a specific role" for that player; let them focus on what they need to do. After that, they can give them specific plays that they know. 

"So with young players," Pederson said, "you can start building their confidence back that way if you just get real specific with them and limit some of the action that they are seeing but also give them plays, again, both sides of the ball that they are comfortable executing."

Gibson admitted that during the OTAs and even the first day of minicamp, he wasn't playing with his typical confidence and it showed on the field. 

"When I first came in here," he said, "I was all over the place, just thinking a lot."

Finally, over the last two days, Gibson started to make some progress, but it came as the entire team is heading out on break. He was invited by Wentz to go to North Dakota with the rest of the skill position players and plans on attending (see story)

Until then, it'll be on Gibson to stay on himself. He said right now is the hardest part.  

"People go home and you lose that waking up every day at 6 a.m. and going to work and training every single day and working on your stuff, your craft," he said. "You go home and see your friends and you want to go see a movie that's coming out tomorrow or anything like that. Or are you going to go home and work? My intention is to go home and work." 

Report: Eagles work weight incentive into LeGarrette Blount's contract

Report: Eagles work weight incentive into LeGarrette Blount's contract

The Eagles' biggest back might be getting a bit smaller in the coming weeks.

According to a tweet from ESPN's Field Yates, LeGarrette Blount has an incentive in his contract with the Eagles that will net him $50,000 if he weighs in between 240 and 245 pounds when the team reports for training camp on July 24. Blount's one-year deal carries a $1.25 million cap, including a $900,000 base salary as well as a $200,000 signing bonus.

Currently, the Eagles' website lists the two-time Super Bowl champion running back at 6-foot, 250 pounds — at least 30 pounds heavier than any back currently on the roster. 

When asked how much he weighs at an introductory press conference last month, Blount responded, "The weight I need to be at."

Weight clauses have become more and more common, especially with running backs. Seattle's Eddie Lacy earned $55,000 in May when he tipped the scales at 255 pounds (or fewer) and the Seahawks' bruising back will have the chance to earn another $330,000 over the course of six more weigh-ins through the end of the regular season.

The same goes for Atlanta defensive lineman Dontari Poe, who could bank as much as $500,000 in bonuses if he slims down to 330 pounds from his listed 346 pounds.

Eagles have NFL's best offensive line, according to Pro Football Focus

Eagles have NFL's best offensive line, according to Pro Football Focus

Thanks to Lane Johnson’s suspension and a few injuries, the Eagles' offensive line unit wasn’t what most expected it to be in 2016. Should things go according to plan on the O-line in 2017, expectations are high. For Pro Football Focus, they’re as high as it gets.

PFF ranked the Eagles’ O-line No. 1 in the entire league heading into this season, citing the fact that it has the “fewest holes.”

Center Jason Kelce is considered their biggest question mark, but even though his abilities have faded a bit with age, he hasn’t missed a snap in two seasons. That has to count for something.

Allen Barbre and second-year Eagle Brandon Brooks, who allowed just one sack last season, complete the line’s interior. Then, of course, the tackle tandem of Jason Peters and Lane Johnson is hard to beat. PFF says Johnson, when on the field, was the best right tackle last season. Johnson would agree.

Even beyond the first-team unit, the Eagles have experience. Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Isaac Seumalo both saw unexpected snaps as rookies last season because of the reshuffling. That should help moving forward.

Rounding out PFF’s top three are the Browns and Steelers. Cleveland boosted its corps by signing J.C. Tretter and Kevin Zeitler in free agency. The Steelers had the best unit during the second half of last season.

More notably for Eagles fans, the Cowboys come in at No. 9 in PFF’s rankings after owning one of the league’s best O-lines in recent years. Ronald Leary and Doug Free are gone, and La’el Collins’ move to right tackle is not a sure bet for success.

Washington sits two slots below at No. 11. PFF considers continuity the 'Skins' greatest strength — they return all five O-line starters from last season and four of five from 2015.

And the Giants, well, it’ll take some scrolling to reach their spot on the list: No. 28. Left tackle Ereck Flowers was the worst among his position in pressures allowed as a rookie. Eli Manning could be in for a busy season.