PHILADELPHIA >> Kid brothers are good at saying the wrong things at the wrong time, asking for a loan and getting in the way.
It’s easier to love them than tolerate them.
DeAndre Carter’s late brother Kaylan is one of the exceptions.
DeAndre is bidding to win a job with the Eagles after bouncing around from one NFL camp after another. The Eagles are the fifth stop on the tour that began with Baltimore as an undrafted free agent in 2015. The Sacramento State product spent time on the practice squads of the Raiders, Patriots and most recently the 49ers.
Carter made the play of the day Tuesday at Eagles training camp. The 5-8, 188-pounder got open in a pack of players, somehow squared himself up for a Joe Callahan bomb, and hung on while sprawling through the end zone.
The body control, the hands and the desire were eye-opening for a longshot in just his second practice with the club. Then again, it all began to make sense when Carter was asked about his refusal to surrender.
“I’ve been cut a few times,” Carter said. “A lot of guys would fold under those circumstances and give up but this is my passion. I made my little brother a promise that I was going to make it in the league. I’m going to keep pushing and keep trying until I make that promise come true.”
The way DeAndre Carter remembers it, Kaylan was stricken with heart trouble in high school at age 17. He went into cardiac arrest during a weightlifting session, according to reports. The autopsy revealed an enlarged heart. DeAndre left college to be at his brother’s side in his dying moments.
“He had some heart palpitations, went into a coma and didn’t make it out,” Carter said. “It was one of the hardest things I had to go through in my life. Everything I do is for him.”
For Carter, it’s all about keeping the dream alive. In just a few days the product of Freemont, Calif. is establishing himself as a focus-and-finish guy.
Carter earned first-team FCS All-American honors at Sacramento State in 2014. In four seasons he registered 35 touchdowns.
Carter got a call recently from an Eagles scout, had a workout and was signed on the spot. With Alshon Jeffery and Bryce Treggs out of action, the Eagles needed some more guys to get some snaps. Carter has a history with Eagles player personnel chief Joe Douglas, who worked in Baltimore. The Eagles want him to compete.
“I’m going to learn the offense and do whatever they ask me to do,” Carter said. “I return punts and I return kicks.”
When Carter is on the field, the focus is football. When practice is over, he focuses on football. But at some point, his thoughts drift to Kaylan, who he shared a room with, pushed around a little bit and misses. August is the month Kaylan passed away.
“I think it’s made me stronger,” Carter said. “I think it’s made me the man I am today.”
Carson Wentz hasn’t competed in 11 on 11 team drills since over-enthusiastic reporters proclaimed him all the way back from knee surgery during his lively showing in practice last Saturday.
Wentz wasn’t available in the media tent Tuesday, as scheduled.
Clearly Wentz has been throttled down in his comeback from torn ACL and LCL ligaments in the left knee.
Oddly, Wentz nonetheless ran sprints the length of the field while quarterbacks Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld and Joe Callahan ran the offense.
Eagles rookie offensive tackle Jordan Mailata, the rugby player, finally wowed his teammates.
Only it was with his voice, not the game he’s being force fed.
The 6-8, 346-pound Aussie captivated an audience of players, coaches and front office staff at the talent show Monday.
“He sang Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton and it was absolutely unbelievable,” line mate Lane Johnson said. “He could be in America’s Got Talent. He’s that good. It was really something to watch.”
Mailata sang a capella, while strumming the old air guitar.
Rookie defensive end Josh Sweat also came up big, singing something from Usher.
“Those two guys were probably the most impressive,” Johnson said.
Mailata faces an uphill battle to make the practice squad, much less the roster. Johnson said the 21-year-old has all the tools to play tackle, starting with excellent feet, size and strength.
“It’s going to take time to develop but he could be very good,” he said. “Once he learns the game and gets confident in there he’s going to be really good. It’s just so hard to come in not knowing any football, ever, and then coming into the NFL against the top tier talent in the world and having to learn it on the fly.”
Johnson, by the way, thinks he could play professional rugby. Mailata gave him a thumbs up although he told Johnson the transition wouldn’t be easy.
Callahan has shown a lot of mobility and confidence in limited snaps. He made the most of his limited action during the 11 on 11 drills with live tackling. The spin just to get the ball to Carter was Aaron Rodgers-esque.
Or, as Callahan calls the move, “Just not getting sacked.
“Avoid getting sacked at all costs,” he said. “It’s something a lot of right-handed quarterbacks do is to step up and spin out to avoid that collapsing pocket to the left.”