Ask a coach what is going on during the team's Organized Team Activities and he will say something along the lines of, "Making progress. Learning. Every day, the guys get a little bit better." Complete evaluations are reserved until training camp begins and the tempo increases. For most of the players on the field during the two days of practices at the NovaCare Complex this week, every step was a learning experience.
Not so for linebabcker Moise Fokou. He is running with the starters at the SAM linebacker position, and he is intent on keeping his status, becoming a standout on this defense, and living happily ever after. He has come from the bottom of the ladder, relatively speaking, emerging from a seventh-round draft pick last April to a starter by the end of the year and now, entering his second NFL season, someone the Eagles really need to come through.
"I've spent the whole off-season working hard and preparing. I know the system and I'm having a great off-season with Coach Barry (Rubin, the team's strength and conditioning coach)," said Fokou. "You can't stop working in this league. You do that and somebody passes you by."
In a still-evolving defense, Fokou's development is critical. He has to be a physical presence against the run at a well-conditioned 235 to 240 pounds, and he has to be a lockdown cover man when his responsibilities include lining up over the tight end and riding him down the field. The Eagles have been searching for a long-term solution to the SAM position since Carlos Emmons left town as a free agent.
Fokou is the next in line to be evaluated.
"I'm ready to step up. I have a lot of confidence in where I am and where I'm going to be," said Fokou. "I'm just working hard every day."
They all are working hard. The team -- rookies and selected veterans -- practiced on Wednesday and Thursday and then the full-team OTAs start a week from Monday. This is shells-and-shorts stuff, so to really delve in and let you know who is making his move up the depth chart wouldn't be an accurate portrayal of what's going on.
This is a time for the coaching staff to teach and to test players and their mental capabilities. It is draining for the rooks and it is necessary and, at times, drudgery for the veterans who have been through this time and time again.
For a player like Fokou, there is nothing voluntary about the chance to get on the field and become a better football player. He has a lot riding on this season, most of all a chance to establish himself at a position that needs stability.
*NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE OF THIS AND THAT *
- Looks ot me like Charles Scott catches the football better than maybe I thought he would. He is pretty smooth and I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of power he has running the football when the pads go on.
- For whatever it means right now -- and without pads, it is very hard to say -- both linebacker Joe Mays and cornerback Geoff Pope stepped up in the rookies and selected vets camp.
- Nothing much to say about the Eagles' reported interest in free-agent offensive guard Chester Pitts, but I'll be watching to see if anything happens there. I'll say this: The Eagles are keeping their eyes open for every position. There will be some movement, obviously, before September 12.
- Watching Brandon Graham in practice, you see a very quick, low-to-the-ground player. He has a chance. The true test is many moons away, but Graham has made a strong first impression.