PHILADELPHIA -- Fletcher Cox spent plenty of time with Jordan Davis last season. The Philadelphia Eagles legend might know Davis better than anyone on the roster (that wasn't his teammate at Georgia).
Cox didn't need much to see the steps Davis took from year one to year two. The duo have a lot in common, especially when it comes toward expectations in Philadelphia.
"I've been in his position. You know, being drafted in the first round -- you expect a lot," Cox said after Wednesday's Eagles practice. "But the biggest thing is to get in and learn. Learn the defense, learn how to practice as a pro. Learn just the new environment of being around.
"Overall, he's gonna be a really good player for us."
What was the indicator Cox saw that Davis was going to make the leap from Year 1 to Year 2? The day the Eagles reported to the NovaCare Complex gave him that answer.
"He came back. He knew what to expect," Cox said. "I watched him run the conditioning test. He did a great job. I don't think he was gassed one bit. Flew around in individual drills. Flew around in practice. I'm looking forward toward seeing him continue to grow in his conditioning. He took care of himself. It was great."
Davis had an interesting rookie year with the Eagles, filled with optimism for what was to come followed by the proverbial rookie wall. He went from starting five consecutive games and playing 30 to 40 percent of the snaps to returning from injury and barely playing. The Eagles signed Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph when Davis was out to improve the run defense, and the veterans took up a significant amount of playing time.
The snap count percentage decreased to 10 to 25 percent when Davis returned to the field, part of a defensive tackle rotation with Suh, Joseph, Cox, and Javon Hargrave. Davis did play over 30 percent of the snaps in two postseason games, but the Eagles were up big in the second half in both those contests. He played just 10 defensive snaps in Super Bowl LVII.
"You can see the growth, the jump, from the first year to the second year," Cox said. "It's really good to see. You know, he's healthy. Last year he was starting to ramp up and he got hurt. As a rookie, I think that kind of affected him. He was out for an amount of time and got back into the groove of things.
"Now, he's healthy and he's flying around. You can feel his presence."
While Davis has looked leaner and ready for the rigors in the NFL in year two, his former Georgia teammate left a strong first impression on day one of practice. Jalen Carter caught the attention of the veterans immediately, despite being eased into the defensive tackle rotation (the Eagles had Carter on the second team in the first practice).
"Physically man, he looks the part," Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson said after practice. "I got to go against him a few times in the run game. He's stout. I'm anxious to see him out there. Him and Jordan Davis with Fletcher.
"Let the big guys teach them and let the young guys feast."
Carter made a strong first impression on Jason Kelce as well, yet Kelce has been around this league long enough to not overhype himself over one hour of practice. That goes for both of the Georgia defensive tackles.
"You kind of felt him making a drastic inside move. We're talking about him," Kelce said. "I learned not to take first impressions as the end all, be all.
"The way he's moving around, he's strong. Him and Jordan Davis are a good matchup for me. I'll be interested to look at the tape and see what it looks like. The mark of this league is consistency."
Brandon Graham is already looking towards the future with the Georgia standouts on the defensive line (Davis, Carter, and Nolan Smith). Already a leader in the locker room, Graham couldn't contain his excitement for what's to come with the young blood that will soon anchor the defensive front.
"I told them, I just wanna see them win," Graham said. "We all know what it feel like to be up there. I want to take them to the next level. It's their time now. Them boys are gonna eventually take over."
That time may be now for both Davis and Carter.