— Nolan Carroll seemingly has impressed everybody but himself in the early portion of Philadelphia Eagles training camp.
The former Miami Dolphins cornerback has done something in every live session to disrupt the offense or create a turnover, yet he calls his performance disappointing.
"I'm not doing it right now," he said, shaking his head. "I need to do more, actually. I'm trying to do anything I can, really, to start. So in my mind, I'm not satisfied."
Whether that is a defense mechanism to keep him from becoming content or complacent is unclear. What has been clear is his forceful presence, breaking up and intercepting passes, knocking receivers off their routes and just being in a position so often to make plays on the football.
Carroll will have a chance to win one of the starting jobs that are held by incumbents Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher. Ironically, nickel cornerback Brandon Boykin is the only real lock among the corners to return in the same role he played a year ago.
Carroll developed into a solid player in his four previous seasons in the NFL, all with Miami, he started 22 games over the last two seasons, finishing with career highs of three interceptions, 2.0 sacks and 47 tackles last season. Still, the Dolphins chose to let him depart via free agency.
He didn't need to be nudged.
Happy to reboot his career in a winning environment and escape the poisonous environment in Miami, where he claims the fallout from the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying incident was so intense that it affected how the team performed by the end of the season, Carroll has done so much already to win over his peers and the select fans who've been lucky enough to watch practices at the limited-access NovaCare Complex.
Yet it's not enough. It will never be enough for him.
"I'm not satisfied," Carroll said. "That's just how I've been since I got into the league. I just always want to do better because there's always somebody else out there who's going to do more than you. And that's my mindset.
"I'm not going to rely on reporters or whatever a coach says. In my mind, I want to get better. I don't ever want to get complacent."
For the record, here's what one of the coaches, defensive coordinator Billy Davis, had to say: "He's a very well rounded talent. He's got size, he's got length, he's got speed, he's a real tenacious competitor. I love his attitude out there the way he presses and competes and puts his hands on the people, and he's got a good knack for the ball."
Although the acquisition of safety Malcolm Jenkins is still looked upon as their most significant free-agent addition of the offseason, Carroll might just prove to be the most valuable if he can nudge Williams or Fletcher, who would seem more vulnerable than Williams at this point, out of a starting spot.
Either way, Carroll is happy to be part of what they're trying to build here.
"We're all helping each other out out here," he said. "Nobody is against anybody right now. Because this thing doesn't work [with] just one person. It takes all four guys, five, six guys on the back end, and it takes all 11 of us to work together every day."
"So we're helping each other. If you see something somebody's not doing correctly, we help him. We ask for advice for each other and we help each other out as far as what type of technique to play on certain routes, how our hand placement was, how our technique was. We know that we're all in this together."
At the very least, Carroll and rookie Jaylen Watkins figure to push the starters to new heights and improve the depth at the position.
For a defense that produced more than its share of takeaways (31) last season, it bodes well for another step forward in 2014.
Even if Carroll doesn't start, he knows he can help bring that number up.
"I think because of all the scenarios I've gone through in my first four years, anything I see doesn't surprise me," he said.
"I was behind a lot of veterans and I was always a step behind because I was trying to keep up with those guys. Those guys were 10, 11, 12 years in, and I've got to keep up with them … and every single year I think I've gotten better. And I'm at the point now where I'm comfortable. I know what I'm supposed to do when I'm out there and I'm just always thinking about making plays instead of thinking about [whether] I'm aligned correctly or if I'm playing it right. I'm just out there playing now."
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