PHILADELPHIA – It was a gloomy day at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday, and it had nothing to do with the rainy weather that drove the Eagles' first OTA training in the 2018 season.
The movement required 88 football players, Eagles staff and a horde of media squeezing into the team's interior for a two-hour training session. Paradoxically, when you just put things into the house, the silence became even more deafening when linebacker Paul Worrilow succumbed to a cruciate ligament rupture in less than an hour. He's out for the season.
Some reporters later waited for the locker of Mychal Kendricks without Kendricks having left the compound and being released after six years with the organization that had designed it in 201
The Eagles have only two experienced starter starlets – Nigel Bradham and the often injured Jordan Hicks – and a group of players whose experience in special teams is great.
This is Nathan Gerry's moment and he knows it.
Tuesday, Gerry received the bulk of the first linebacker team reruns. At the time, he just thought it was because Kendricks was healed of ankle surgery during the postseason.
"It's good for me," Gerry admitted. "We just have low numbers, which is good … for me, the more you can, the better, I'm just trying to learn the defense as a whole and just find my role."
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With a good camp Gerry was supposed to do the roster. With a great, he could challenge for legitimate game time on the defense.
Right now, except for a mid-summer free agent signature, Gerry's main competition will come from Corey Nelson, a free agent signer from The Wild Horses, and Kamu Grugier-Hill
Nelson missed most of last season's Denver with a biceps injury and has never been a full time starter. One person familiar with Broncos' decision-making told NJ Advance Media that Nelson is a "very good guy," but nothing more than a "good substitute and special team member."
Grugier-Hill, a third-year professional, has played in special careers in his career so far.
The Eagles have brought Gerry to safety in the fifth round from Nebraska last year and worked to convert him to linebacker.
He did not progress as fast as the team would have liked, so Gerry did not complete the first 53-man roster. After the Eagles had passed the waivers, they held Gerry in training until October 19, until he was promoted to active duty, where he remained for the remainder of the season.
"I just stuck to what I wanted to do," Gerry said. "It's a tough road to be in a team, especially the NFL's best team, such things humiliate you a bit, they make you hungrier, that's my motto all year long, I keep working hard and things are going to be happen. "
Gerry, who played mainly special teams, finished in ten games a total of five tackles, although he fended off in the seventh week against Lincoln a pass against the Cowboys.
Gerry played in each of the playoff games on Special Teams, including the Super Bowl win over the Patriots, and returned to South Dakota for a warm welcome.
"They showed love to me before, just because there are not many (football players) coming from South Dakota," said Gerry. "After winning the Super Bowl, it was very special for me to see how much love I put home."
Now Gerry has the chance to evolve to not only build the list, but to stay on maybe even play a bit on defense.
One year ago, Gerry learned how to play linebacker at all. Now he is building a knowledge base so he can contribute to all three linebacker spots, which is particularly valuable to account for Hicks' midline lineback injury bias.
Gerry has also clenched. He still weighs about 230 pounds, he said, but it's mostly muscle mass, and he feels even faster now, "which makes me feel better," he said with a smile.
At this time, Gerry is not a lock on the lineup, though he can certainly help his case with good play at OTAs, training camps and preseason.
"I'm much more comfortable" than linebacker, Gerry said. "I am day and night from the place where I was last year, to be honest, last year I learned a lot and tried to adapt to what I had to do."
"Now I feel like I'm out there playing theater. "
Zack Rosenblatt is reachable at email@example.com Follow him on Twitter @ZackBlatt .Find NJ.com on Facebook