Bob Ford: Eagles' Calvin a necessary part or extra cargo?

Jorrick Calvin was traded to the Eagles on Monday. "You've got four days to show what you can do," he said.
Jorrick Calvin was traded to the Eagles on Monday. "You've got four days to show what you can do," he said.
Posted: September 02, 2010

Jorrick Calvin was minding his business bright and early Monday morning - the business of trying to make the Arizona Cardinals' roster - when he was pulled from a defensive backs meeting and told the head coach wanted to see him.

Calvin is a rookie, 23 years old, and he might not know much about the workings of professional football yet, but he knew that Ken Whisenhunt probably wasn't going to give him a good-conduct medal.

The walk through the corridors seemed endless, with the pit-of-the-stomach emptiness that accompanies any unexpected trip to the principal's office. But Calvin received a mixture of good news along with the bad when he arrived.

The Cardinals, the team that drafted him in the sixth round, the team that took a chance on a little player from a small school even though he hadn't played his senior year - that team had decided to get rid of him. On the other hand, another team, the Philadelphia Eagles, wanted him, and he would have a chance to make that team.

"I was like, 'Uh, when do I have to be there?' " Calvin said. "I left the coach's office, and Philadelphia called me and said they were going to get me on a flight that day, at 11:50. It was already 9 o'clock in Arizona. And I just said, 'Wow. OK.' It's pretty crazy."

The Eagles traded fullback Charles Scott, whom they took with the 200th pick in the draft, for Calvin, whom the Cardinals took with the 201st pick. Arizona is thin at fullback and needed another in camp, just for depth. The Eagles appear to have plenty of cornerbacks, which is Calvin's position, but they might think they need help on kickoff and punt returns, both of which he does as well.

These late-summer trades are often meaningless, with teams making just-in-case moves to plug small holes that haven't even become holes yet. It could be that getting another punt returner in camp became a precautionary necessity when DeSean Jackson injured an ankle last week and Jeremy Maclin developed an unsettling aversion to catching a football in traffic. It could be that Quintin Demps' role on the kickoff-return unit became a bit more tenuous when Macho Harris moved back to safety to fight for the last roster spot there.

Who really knows? All of these deep thoughts are way above the heads of the young players who crisscross the country like spare parts on a cargo flight. Sometimes it works out for the cargo, but that's not the way to bet.

For Calvin, however, it is still a chance, although he knows there are no guarantees. He landed Monday in Philadelphia, practiced on Tuesday, did a walk-through on Wednesday, and will get his big chance Thursday night in the final exhibition game against the Jets. The deadline for the cutdown to a 53-man roster is Saturday.

"You've got four days to show what you can do," Calvin said. "I wouldn't say it's fair, but it's a business. If you want to play in this league, you've got to be acclimated to what comes with it."

Calvin, originally from Baton Rouge, La., played two seasons of football at geographically challenged East Central Community College in Decatur, Miss., then one season at Troy University in Alabama before he was academically ineligible for his senior season. There were some deaths in his family and he missed a big assignment in one class and failed it. He appealed, but football season slipped away. The film of his play as a junior, and his workout results, got him drafted, however, and the Eagles kept an eye on him throughout the spring and summer, according to general manager Howie Roseman.

"I've got just a few days to learn as much as I can," Calvin said. "I'm the new guy and I have to get used to everything quickly."

At the NovaCare Complex before the final roster cuts, temporary lockers are wheeled into the middle of the locker room to house the overflow. Most of the players who inhabit them are temporary, too, and Calvin's spot is very nearly the closest to the door.

If he still has a locker on Sunday, it will be one of the sturdy ones built against the walls, the ones that remain after the little lockers have been wheeled away for another year. If he has a locker on Sunday, it will mean he did well against the Jets on Thursday night, or it will mean that Jackson's ankle is still tender, or that Demps and Harris are locked in a death struggle at safety. It could mean a lot of things, but, either way, it would mean a lot to Jorrick Calvin.

"I'm just thankful for this opportunity," Calvin said. "The Cardinals could have just cut me and I could be home right now. But someone wanted me and someone saw the potential I have. I might be nervous before [Thursday's] game, but then I'm just going to go out and do my best and just do what I can."

It's just business, and Calvin's business changed on Monday. It might change again on Saturday. He really hopes not.


Contact columnist Bob Ford

at 215-854-5842 or bford@phillynews.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/bobford.

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