On the opening day of 2019 Eagles Training Camp, with the players in their seats in the NovaCare Complex auditorium all together for the first time this year, head coach Doug Pederson walked down the hallway. As he entered, he expressed the overall tenor of the organization.
"I'm excited to get this thing going," Pederson said.
And then it got going. Pederson welcomed the players to Training Camp and spoke about his expectations. He threw the program over to Howie Roseman, who spoke of coming together as a team over the course of the next several weeks prior to the start of the regular season. Team president Don Smolenski then talked about the fans and the importance the 10 million-strong fan base plays in the success of the team, and that by reaching out to a young fan, a player can change a person forever.
It was powerful stuff. Simple, yes. But powerful and important and certainly on point with what the Eagles are selling in 2019: We are all in this together. It's not just the players and the coaches. It's every person in the organization and it's every fan and it's all of the chemistry and camaraderie falling into place.
"We're here to be a team," Roseman said. "We're here to win together as a team."
And so, we begin.
Wednesday was very much a first-day-of-school feeling as the players returned to the NovaCare Complex for the first time since the mandatory minicamp ended on June 13. The commitment now is seven days a week, and the goal is to improve, even just a little bit, each and every day. The talent on this roster is undeniable, but winning in the NFL requires more than talent.
There is certainly a lot of momentum here, and this is the perfect example of how it works. The Eagles signed Darren Sproles, officially, bringing back another talented player to add depth and competition at running back and explosiveness in the return game. What does Sproles mean to the Eagles? Well, much more than the role of running back/return man. The feeling around here is that Sproles is the kind of person who makes everyone around him better. Anyone who has been around him knows that the way he approaches the game rubs off on everyone else.
Seeing a guy like him back in the building, and then seeing a guy like defensive end Brandon Graham walk into the team meeting hugging everyone along the way to his seat, you get excited. We've all got a long way to go here. There are going to be exactly zero gimmies for the Eagles this season because they're going to get the best from their opponent every week. But that's part of the fun. The Eagles are back and Training Camp is here and we're going to learn more about the quality of this team now when the pads go on.
Excited? You should be. Everybody at the NovaCare Complex is buzzing, the energy level is through the roof, and the Eagles have a tremendous feeling of confidence, combined with knowing that they've got so much work ahead to achieve their goals.
Pederson sets the tone with his enthusiasm and his attention to detail. He expressed both in his message to the team on Wednesday. He's going to run a tough, but fair, camp. Every player is going to get a long look. The goal is to get to September 8 heathy and with the very best 53-man roster the Eagles can put together.
Training Camp started on Wednesday with a behind-the-scenes, positive-experience day. Now, the Eagles take to the football field. It's one step after the other here, and the Eagles made a grand entrance on Wednesday.
By 6:30 p.m., after a long day of conditioning tests, physicals, and meetings, the players settled into the NovaCare Complex cafeteria for dinner. The mood was light. The laughter and chatter were noticeable. Eagles football is back, baby, and it arrived just in time to save this summer. A year with great anticipation has arrived and, with that, the Eagles are ready to venture into action and find out just how good they really are in 2019.