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Asomugha doesn't regret choosing Philly

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)

Nnamdi Asomugha was headed for Broadway when the Philadelphia Eagles swooped in at the last minute and stole the All-Pro cornerback from the New York Jets.

Too bad for him there are no do-overs in free agency.

Asomugha chose the Eagles over the Jets, thinking he could help the defending NFC East champions reach the Super Bowl. That won't happen this year.

The Eagles (5-8) are clinging to slim playoff hopes entering Sunday's game against New York (8-5). Maybe Asomugha should've picked that other team in green instead.

''No, I don't regret it at all,'' Asomugha said. ''The thing that has been very difficult is not winning. I think the tough part about that is the fact that the expectations were really high coming into it. Even if my expectations were realistic, the expectations that were out there, I think, I kind of let that get to me, as well, the expectations of everything will be and must be perfect with this team now that they've acquired these players and blah, blah, blah.

''I always have a realistic approach to it, but I kind of let that seep through and then that made the losing of it all a little bit tougher, a little bit more difficult to deal with. But no, I have never, have not and will not regret it. Our story still isn't over yet, so there is always something to learn and we're still fighting. That's pretty much where I stand with that.''

The Eagles stunned the football world when they signed Asomugha to a $60 million, five-year contract shortly after the NFL's lockout ended in July. A day earlier, the Eagles had acquired two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in a trade from Arizona.

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Asomugha, Rodgers-Cromartie and Asante Samuel, a four-time Pro Bowl pick, were expected to form the best cornerback trio in the league. But they haven't come close to fulfilling those expectations.

Part of the problem for Asomugha has been fitting into a different defensive scheme than the one he excelled in for years in Oakland. Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, who switched from coaching the offensive line, gave Asomugha far more responsibilities than he was used to with the Raiders.

''It's been completely different from what I was doing in Oakland,'' Asomugha said. ''Obviously, in Oakland, when I was there it was about just finding a guy, matching up with him and playing him one-on-one pretty much the whole game. It's just completely different than with the one-on-ones and putting in some new things.

''He has also been just moving me around the field. He's wanted me to be sometimes the corner, wanted me to be sometimes the nickel, he's wanted me to play a rover, sometimes a free safety, and there are some challenges with that because you basically have to learn the scheme and the coverages for every single position that you have to play. That's where I think that the biggest challenge has come in, is knowing how you fit based off each call, depending on what position you're playing. Then, he has some different techniques that he has guys playing.''

Perhaps things would've been different if Asomugha had picked the Jets. With star cornerback Darrelle Revis shadowing the opponent's top receiver on one side, Asomugha may have been left alone to play man coverage against the No. 2 guy.

Jets coach Rex Ryan called Asomugha once the free agency period opened and went after him hard during the recruiting process.

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''I really liked the staff there in New York,'' Asomugha said. ''I was really close with Rob Ryan, so I know that Rex, being his twin, would be very similar to him. During the 48 hours or whatever it was that we were able to talk, they were saying some really great things. I liked how the defense played. They were doing a lot of the things that I had done throughout my career, so there wouldn't be much adjusting or anything like that. I was really close.''

Then, the Eagles called.

''The Eagles came in that 11th hour or whatever it was,'' Asomugha said. ''All along, I had always admired the Eagles. They were always the team that, if they were involved, that was where I wanted to be. At the end there, they did, they came in, so I managed to flip back to how I was thinking in the beginning.''

Asomugha spoke with Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and wide receiver DeSean Jackson at the Pro Bowl last January. He knew several other players on the team and was impressed with the way they talked about the organization.

''Obviously, no one is going to say anything disparaging about their organization, but everything they were saying, I just took it to heart and really liked it,'' Asomugha said.

Tagged: Jets, Eagles, Nnamdi Asomugha

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