Was Jalen Carter of the Eagles in better shape at rookie camp?

It raised a red flag when defensive tackle Jalen Carter showed up to his pro day in mid-March nine pounds heavier than he was at the Combine and struggled to complete positional drills.

Did Carter show up to Eagles rookie camp in better shape?

He said he did.

“Oh yeah, sure,” the first-round pick said Friday. “I’ve made sure my conditioning level is much higher.”

Was it really? Pretty hard to tell from very light practice as the Eagles kicked off rookie camp Friday afternoon at the NovaCare complex.

When asked about Carter’s level of conditioning, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni instead spoke about the entire rookie group. He said none of them were in any condition to play a game right now and that was not the goal of this camp.

“I think what you’ll see when we go there is that we’re trying to get everybody back into shape, into football shape,” Sirianni said. “These guys have been in hotels, they’ve had 30 visits (before the draft), they’re preparing for pro days, they’re preparing for the Combine. So to say that one of them is in very good footballing shape and ready to play a game tomorrow, I would say that’s inaccurate. None of these guys are.

It may be true.

But none of those other guys publicly bombed their pro workout a month and a half ago.

“It was just me,” Carter said the night he was drafted, when asked about his performance on Georgia’s pro day. “I felt conditioned but I guess I wasn’t, and that was just me. I should have conditioned myself a little more or a lot more before the pro day.

Of course, you can explain the weight gain and poor performance by remembering that Carter was arrested about two weeks before that pro day and eventually pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges related to a fatal accident in January. It was a tumultuous and stressful time in his life.

News of Carter’s impending arrest broke while he was in Indianapolis at the Combine, so the only time he practiced with a large audience during the pre-draft process was on his pro day. And it didn’t go well.

For what it’s worth, Sirianni said he wasn’t concerned about Carter’s conditioning. Asked about his level of concern on Friday, the Eagles head coach replied “None”.

But it will be something worth watching early in Carter’s career. The Eagles invested heavily to land Carter with the No. 9 overall pick and they will keep him high.

“I told them right away…we obviously went through our rules, okay, our team rules,” Sirianni said. “And one of those team rules is to be on time and another of those rules is to have the weight that you’re supposed to have. And those are non-negotiable for me, and they know this and we will keep this standard as we go.

“But yeah, I feel like he wants to be the best pro he can be, and not everywhere – again, I don’t know exactly. I have no idea what each program says the person is supposed to weigh, at right, or sometimes the programs, even within the NFL, don’t follow that or they follow it, but they don’t say, you have to weigh that amount.

“So it’s just new here. We will get him to what he is supposed to play, and I have no doubt in my mind that he will do whatever he needs to do to be the player he needs to be.

Carter, 22, was considered one of the top prospects in this year’s draft class and the Eagles know he likely wouldn’t have been available so late had it not been for the outside issues. of the land and maturity. But the Eagles did their homework and were comfortable enough to take Carter.

The reward could certainly be worth the risk. Because Carter has a legitimate All-Pro cap in the NFL and in Philadelphia, he will learn the way from veteran teammates like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and others.

The veterans will be back in the building starting Monday after rookie camp ends, but the whole squad won’t train together until May 30, when volunteer OTAs begin.

Friday’s practice was extremely light, but Sirianni offered this about Carter:

“He looks good,” Sirianni said. “He looked good there today. But, like I said, today it wasn’t about who was ready in terms of conditioning because, quite frankly, none of them are.

When training camp begins in late July or August, these recruits better be in good shape. Especially Carter. All eyes will be on him.

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