The first few days, which begin with an 8:45 a.m. walk through on Monday, are critical for many reasons. The work with the rookies is essential to get them up to speed with the terminology and the pace of practice, so that when the entire team reports and practices later in the week, the kids are able to keep pace.
For a player like cornerback Cliff Harris, for example, the work is of ultimate importance. He missed the Organized Team Activities as his class at Oregon graduated, so he has a lot of catching up to do. Then again, all of the new Eagles are in the same boat. How much of the schemes have they retained since the spring? How is their conditioning? Will they thrive or wilt in the heat and the intensity of three-plus weeks at Lehigh University?
For the most part, then, the opening act of camp is for the rookies. But there is going to be more to see. All four quarterbacks -- Michael Vick, Mike Kafka, Nick Foles and Trent Edwards -- will be present. They get some reps, which are always beneficial.
Other veterans who are expected in are those coming back from injury. Safety and special teams ace Colt Anderson is anxious to get back on the field to show that he is still a dominating player in kick coverage. Defensive tackle Mike Patterson is also one to report early to continue his rehab after offseason brain surgery and to get back on the field and knock the rust off after an inactive spring in practice. How much Patterson practices early remains to be seen.
There will be no conclusions drawn from the first couple of weeks of camp. Not until the pads go on is it fair to really assess the play at training camp. However, every repo matters for the kids, every chance to learn about the X's and O's makes a difference.
It's coming fast, isn't it? Andy Reid addresses the media on Sunday afternoon (we're live wiith Training Camp Live! at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday) to give his State-Of-The-Team address. From that point forward it's all-Eagles, all the time here as we see just how good this team can be in 2012.
NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
- The Eagles reportedly have in excess of $15 million in salary-cap money for 2012, but don't expect them to go out and spend on a big-ticket free agent. Instead, the focus is on the current roster, both now and for 2013. The Eagles are able to carry money into 2013's cap, and with players like cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin to consider down the line, the Eagles might be better off holding on to the available dollars and investing in the roster in the months ahead.
- My reaction to quarterback Michael Vick talking about an Eagles "dynasty" ... potentially: Hey, the guy is excited about training camp and the 2012 season. He's got a lot of confidence. The Eagles feel good going into training camp. Was it overboard? Yeah, probably. The Eagles have not won a Super Bowl. It's way premature to talk about a "dynasty" before the franchise has won a single Super Bowl. But I love that Vick feels good about the roster now, and about the direction the franchise is taking. No big deal in the overall picture.
- Any coming-from-nowhere players to look forward to at training camp? Well, I like the young group of tight ends challenging Clay Harbor -- Brett Brackett and Chase Ford -- and I think Harris and safety Phillip Thomas bear watching in the secondary. You know I'm high on Bryce Brown and Chris Polk at running back. Damaris Johnson is a player to watch at wide receiver.
- Just to reiterate, I'm not anticipating any major roster moves prior to camp opening. The Eagles still have not officially added wide receiver Tiger Jones, from the Arena League's Philadelphia Soul, and that may or may not happen in the next two days. I don't consider that a major move. And I don't think one is coming unless the Eagles suffer an injury or see something that they really don't like in the preseason.