Mychal Kendricks used to be that guy. The guy imploring teammates to play harder, the guy wearing his emotions on his sleeve, the guy dreaming of an NFL career and wondering why others weren’t.

He was that guy in high school and in college, and in those stomach-knotting moments as the national anthem was belted out just minutes before his first NFL preseason game.

“Patriots. The first game,” Kendricks recalled. “I’m juiced. I was excited as hell. And it’s the preseason. I’m hyped up. I’m yelling at these vets, who have already been here. And it’s preseason.”

Then, suddenly, Kendricks wasn’t that guy. Before he took the field against the Patriots that night, the message had come down from cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: Hey, rookie. Shut your mouth.

“[Rodgers-Cromartie says] ‘Man, c’mon, shut the [expletive] up, it’s preseason.” Kendricks said. “I’m like, ‘[Expletive], I didn’t even think of it like that. It’s an emotional game for me. They’re playing the national anthem. I’m looking at that shield like, “Man, I’m in the NFL.’

“[Rodgers-Cromartie] was like, ‘Yo, calm down. Chill out, bro. It’s preseason. You still gotta make the team.’ I’m like, ‘[Expletive], you’re right.’ After that, I never said nothing the whole year. I didn’t say [expletive].”

The concept of rookies trying to assimilate in a new environment among a variety of individuals and personalities is the league’s hot-button issue at the moment, given the controversy swirling these days around the Miami Dolphins’ locker room.

But Kendricks’ story is also very telling about the Eagles’ locker room last year, and some of the inner turmoil that manifested in the team’s 4-12 record.

That Kendricks felt muzzled by -- of all people -- one of the most underperforming marquee acquisitions of the Andy Reid era goes a long way in explaining why the Eagles at times last year seemed immune to the pain of persistent losing.

This season, veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who emerged last season as one of the team’s few genuine leaders, encouraged Kendricks to release the animal that Rodgers-Cromartie had caged.