The General Manager who never sleeps and the head coach who is as aggressive as they come added punter Mat McBriar to the roster as the team gathered for the first time at Lehigh University, instantly providing some drama for the special teams in training camp and throughout the summer.
Just when you thought Chas Henry was locked in as the punter for 2012 ...
Thing is, almost nothing on this roster is "locked in." You sit down with Howie Roseman and ask him about what's ahead and he provides terms like "competition" and "best 53-man roster" and "improving the roster" and nowhere and at no time does he make bold predictions.
He's learned well, very quickly.
The point here is that nothing is etched in stone with the Eagles' roster. The team worked out four punters on Monday and decided on McBriar, a two-time All-Pro who is, in the words of head coach Andy Reid "90 percent" of where he was when he played for the Dallas Cowboys. McBriar, if healthy -- he had a nerve injury in his left, or plant, foot that limited him last season -- is one of the best punters in the game.
McBriar, also a holder in the field goal game, is direct competition for Henry, the second-year man who made the team last year and seemed to come on strong late in the season after the usual ups-and-downs of a first-year man early on.
That's exactly how the Eagles want it. If Henry is feeling a little hot under the collar right now, if his palms are sweating, hey, that's part of the business of the NFL. The Eagles are trying to build the best roster they can build, and if having McBriar around makes Henry a better punter, or if McBriar wins the job, the Eagles are better off for it.
This 90-player roster is going to change many times in the weeks to come. Roseman is a strategic guy who is not afraid to make moves and to take risks. He doesn't care how much the Eagles have paid a player, or invested in a draft pick. A young man is here to perform, and if he isn't doing it, well, he's not going to have a job with the Eagles.
There are a few players who face that kind of pressure in this camp. Does Jaiquawn Jarrett rise to the challenge presented by the addition of Oshiomogho Atogwe at safety? Jarrett was a second-round draft pick in 2011 and the numbers suggest that the Eagles are going to keep four, maybe five, safeties on the roster.
At cornerback, Curtis Marsh was a third-round draft pick a year ago. The Eagles have since added Brandon Boykin in April's draft (fourth round) and then signed Cliff Harris after the draft. The name of this game is competition.
Where else might the Eagles add pieces? Well, they traded for defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu, a second-year player who spent last year with the Colts, once they learned that Mike Patterson would be out of training camp as he recovers from brain surgery. They worked out tight end Visanthe Shiancoe on Tuesday and then he signed with the Patriots, but the Eagles have reportedly shown interest in Jeremy Shockey, too.
I don't see a veteran running back on the horizon, because first the Eagles want to see Bryce Brown and Chris Polk with the pads on through at least a couple of preseason games.
A big-bodied wide receiver? Nah. I don't see it happening, because the Eagles really like what they have here.
But I don't know who is on Roseman's "short list," as he calls it. Are there are veterans who mileage remaining who would be worth an investment? See, a lot of these guys think they can still command a final contract that pays some decent cheese, but is that a wise price for the Eagles to pay? This is a young man's game, after all. The Eagles want fresh legs, for example, at the running back position. Didn't Ronnie Brown and his relative lack of production tell us anything last year?
You can be sure, though, that Roseman and Reid are working the phones, keeping their eyes on the waiver wire and strategizing for ways to make the eventual 53-man roster and the very important eight-man practice squad great.
The whole team is here at Lehigh now and training camp kicks into a higher gear. Every player understands the reality of the Not For Long: There is nothing handed to you and there is nothing guaranteed. You play the game day by day and hope somebody notices.
You see the 90-man roster and it looks pretty darn good from this perspective. I know how much it will change in the days ahead. The bottom third of the roster is churning, always, and here more than most places in the league.
McBriar is the latest newcomer. He will hold that distinction for a day or two, maybe a touch longer. Somewhere, on some wall in a dorm room at Lehigh, Roseman is connecting the dots to try to push the roster envelope.