Last year, Don Cherry's football career was crazy.
After wraping up his four-year stint as one of the best linebackers ever to lace up for Villanova, Cherry wasn't sure if his football dream could continue. But a tryout two days before the Eagles' first preseason game in August of 2016 gave him his first opportunity as a pro as he inked a rookie contract. He was let go by the Birds but retained on the practice squad.
Things have gone a little different in 2017.
"I am mainly preparing for [Thursday's first preseason game in Green Bay]," Cherry said after practice Monday. "I want to make sure I am 1,000 times better mentally than where I was last year. It's night and day. Coming into camp last year, I came in a day before the game basically."
Cherry had a big day in training camp Monday morning, leading the second team defense by darting left and right and making plays all over the field. He even picked off back up quarterback Matt McGloin during a full-team two-minute drill. With a full offseason and practice squad stint behind him Cherry is looking more like an NFL linebacker every day.
But playing linebacker likely won't allow him to jump fellow contenders for a spot on the roster like Joe Walker and Nathan Gerry. Thats's where special teams come in.
"I think thats how I make this team for sure," Cherry said. "On special teams I have been focusing on the detials. I jokingly call myself the technician because I want to be technically sound on all the details."
Cherry says he is comfortable staying in Philadelphia, not far from his college home in Radnor down the Main Line. He's been able to block out distractions that can arise for players who play in their hometowns by focusing on football. And he's been able to soak up every nugget of football knowledge he can from an underrated and highly-talented linebackers room.
"I definitely think it's an amazing room and it's a really good mix of guys veterans," Cherry said. "Guys like Najee Goode who have played special teams and has played on a lot of teams, seen it all done it all, guys like Nigel Bradham who played fof Buffalo for along time he's a stud, and you have young guys who are super talented like Jordan [Hicks] growing year-by-year and will be a Pro Browler this year I hope, it makes it easy to learn."