Eagles training camp 2022: What's changed for Marvin Wilson in Year 2?




 

One-time hotshot DT enjoying impressive Eagles camp after career detour originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

BEREA, Ohio - He was one of the top five recruits in the country coming out of high school in Texas.

After his big junior year at Florida State, he was considered a can't-miss 1st- or 2nd-round draft pick.

Marvin Wilson seemed to be on his way to a big-time NFL contract and career.

Then things went bad.

After making the surprising decision to return to Tallahassee for his senior year, he struggled on the field, suffered some nagging injuries and then had a terrible pro day. When all was said and done, he went undrafted.

To make matters worse, after signing with the Browns as an undrafted rookie last year, he got cut at the end of training camp.

You might think Wilson would look at his career so far as a disappointment.

On the contrary.

He looks at every obstacle as a learning experience, something to build on.

"The biggest challenge was really just getting used to running my own race," Wilson said. "Everybody has their own different journey in the NFL, and I think where a lot of people get messed up is they feel like they deserve a different place or a different spot. 

"But I feel like just being in the NFL at all is a blessing. So whatever route it is, it's just running my race and not looking at everybody else. Just making sure I make the best of mine."

Wilson, 23, spent all of last year on the Eagles' practice squad, learning a new defense and new coaches, working hard on his conditioning and just trying to figure out how to be a pro.

He watched everything guys like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Javon Hargrave did in terms of preparation and copied them.

He only played in one game - he was a game-day callup for the meaningless finale against the Cowboys - but for Wilson, last year was more about learning than playing.

"If you go undrafted, that's not ideal at all," he said after practice Thursday against his former team. "But you learn how to fight through it. You learn there's going to be obstacles in life, but you just have to keep fighting and fighting every single day. If you get here and it's not what you want, you have to keep fighting still because every day is going to be a fight. 

"It's not a lesson that comes right away. Over time, you figure it out."

That time appears to be now for Wilson.

Now fully healthy after dealing with a knee injury last year, he's been one of the bigger surprises of Eagles training camp. Something seemed to click for him in the last two weeks, and he's been making plays all over the place.

On Thursday during the 11-on-11 scrimmage that ended practice, he roared up the middle and "sacked" Jacoby Brissett, then raced over and chest-bumped a fired-up defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.

Wilson does something every day that makes you take notice.

"He's come a long way," Cox said after practice Thursday. "Obviously he wasn't here last training camp, (but) he got with us (after final cuts) trying to catch up on things going on with the defensive scheme and the way we do things around the building, and he spent all last year doing that. 

"He was here during the offseason working toward everything and it's really good to see a guy like Marvin just progress during training camp, and I'm excited about him."

Wilson stands 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, and he's finally starting to learn how to use his size and quickness to make plays on the NFL level.

"He's doing well," Gannon said before practice. "He had a little bit of an injury when we got him, a little nicked. You saw that kind of show up at times. I don't think that's showing up (now).

"He's done a good job to get himself in a little bit better shape to be able to play hard for a certain amount of plays with effort.

"He's a big man, he's violent, he plays with good pad level, he's hard to block. That's what you like from your inside guys. Are you hard to block? Can they allow one blocker to block you or do they have to put two on you, and when you have a 1-on-1 in the pass game, can you affect the quarterback? He's done a really good job with it."

Wilson said he experienced a little déjà vu back at practice in Cleveland but said he's really focused only on getting as much as he can out of these joint practices.

"It's amazing what a year difference in the NFL does for you," Wilson said. "Getting healthy and coming back out here, second year in the same system, it feels good."

The Eagles are crazy deep at defensive tackle.

In addition to Cox, Jordan Davis, Javon Hargrave and Milton Williams, the Eagles have second-year pro Marlon Tuipulotu, a 6th-round pick last year who has also improved since last year.

It would be understandable if Wilson was obsessing over what he has to do to make the team. But he's not.

That's another lesson he's learned over the last year.

Don't focus on things you can't control. There's no point.

"Once you start looking ahead, that's when you get lost," he said. "That's what happened to me as a rookie, just looking around, not worrying about today but worrying about tomorrow and the game next week. 

"That's the biggest thing I learned. Wherever my feet are, that's all I need to worry about. Be where your feet are and don't think about anything else."

Unless the Eagles keep Wilson over Tuipulotu, he could be ear-marked for the practice squad again. Although it wouldn't be a shock if he does get claimed if he's released.

But Wilson isn't thinking about any of that.

"I'm a lot farther along than last year, but there's still a lot of work to do," he said. "A lot of more untapped potential inside me that I haven't even touched yet."

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