BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- Philadelphia's secondary includes a pair of former first-round picks in cornerback Patrick Robinson and Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins. But the other half of the Eagles' starting defensive backs play with more of a chip on their shoulders.
Cornerback Jalen Mills was a seventh-round pick in 2016, the 233rd overall player selected. In his second year in the NFL, Mills has established himself as a starter on Philadelphia's defense and had three interceptions in the regular season.
Safety Rodney McLeod went undrafted out of Virginia and spent several seasons with the Rams before landing with the Eagles last season. He started 14 regular-season games this year for Philadelphia and is poised to start Sunday against the New England Patriots.
Both McLeod and Mills will be among the Eagles' defenders tasked with slowing down the ageless Tom Brady, who is in search of his sixth Super Bowl ring. But the underdog defensive backs aren't paying much attention to the mystique that has followed Brady and the Patriots to Minnesota for Super Bowl LII.
"We don't really worry about them too much," McLeod said. "We respect Bill Belichick as a head coach and we respect Tom Brady. They're a duo that's won a lot of championships. We respect them because of that. A lot of teams envy them because of it. We understand what we need to do. ... We know we've got to bring our best."
As Mills talked with the media Tuesday at the Mall of America, he mentioned one Patriots weapon in particular: tight end Rob Gronkowski. The New England star didn't play in last year's Super Bowl due to injury and remained under concussion protocol Monday. But signs point to Gronkowski playing Sunday, and he will clearly be on Philadelphia's radar if he does.
"You have to know where 87 is, for sure," Mills said. "Knowing that Tom is going to look for him just because he has big-play ability at all times. At the same time, you have to cover the whole field because Tom can throw it on all sides of the field."
Sunday will mark Mills' first time facing Brady. When it comes to studying film of the future Hall of Famer, Mills says it's not so much about keying in specifically on Brady but rather New England's tendencies as an offense.
"We don't really focus on the player," Mills said. "We focus on more of how they're trying to attack different types of defense. You focus on who's keying in and what side of the field he's keying in on and who he's trying to go to."