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Eagles Still Have Some Work Ahead

This has, after all, been a marathon of an off-season. From the pre-free agency period when the Eagles signed cornerback Joselio Hanson, to the early, tumultuous days of free agency, to the whirlwind opening weeks there, to the week before the draft when the Eagles traded for Jason Peters to the move-around-the-board draft weekend to now, the restructuring of Donovan McNabb's contract, the team has been busy.

Way, way busy. And they're aren't done yet.

The Eagles have turned parts of the roster over, have sprinkled in ample youth among its experienced roster, and have gone through three weeks and a weekend of post-draft practices. And what do they know about the team?

"We're all very optimistic about things here," said Eagles President Joe Banner. "We think we have pieces in place, and now we need to be fortunate and play good football and see what happens."

Well, not quite. Not yet.

This is the time of the year when coaches and administrators go on vacation and exhale before the push of training camp and the preseason. This is the time when players continue to work hard in the conditioning program and fine-tune their bodies before they throttle back just a little bit to get fresh for camp. There is some work, still. Let's detail some of the items on the team's to-do list now ...

  • Work with Brian Westbrook every day and make sure he is maximizing his recovery from ankle surgery. Westbrook is still a week away, at least, from bearing weight. It's probable that he will return to the NovaCare Complex once he is cleared to rehab and will get with head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder immediately to push his physical conditioning to get ready for camp. The Eagles feel good about the prognosis, said Banner. All of the talk about Westbrook missing time right up until the start of the regular season could be premature. Whether he plays in the preseason remains a question, but Westbrook, if all goes well in his rehab, should get in plenty of practices before the team plays in Carolina to open the season.
  • What's the fallout from McNabb's restructured contract? Nothing much, other than good feelings for both McNabb's camp and for the Eagles. How the deal is structured -- two years with new money, rather than an extension -- seems to have no negative impact on either McNabb or the Eagles, no matter how much some want to make it an issue. What matters is that McNabb is happy, the Eagles are happy and the focus is to win the Super Bowl in 2009.
  • As for Kevin Kolb, nothing really changes. His contract is up after 2010. Whether there is going to be NFL free agency at that point for a four-year veteran remains to be seen. If no new agreement is in place between the Owners and the Players Union, players won't be eligible for free agency until their sixth NFL season. So ...
  • No. 1 draft pick Jeremy Maclin and No. 2 draft pick LeSean McCoy are the only draft picks unsigned. The Eagles seem confident that deals will get done with both players prior to the July 26 reporting date for rookies and selected veterans. But those deals won't get done until we are much closer to training camp.
  • The NFL's Supplemental Draft is held in mid-July and only one player, Kentucky defensive end Jeremy Jarmon, is likely to be drafted. The Eagles are doing their homework here, and are evaluating a player who has excellent size and who was productive in college. It's likely that a team would use a third- or fourth-round draft pick to secure Jarmon in the July 16 Supplemental Draft.
  • Players are still at the NovaCare Complex for a couple of weeks before the off-season conditioning program comes to an end. The work continues there. Rookies remain at the Complex for another week to study, condition and get in their playbooks.
  • Jim Johnson remains on his leave of absence as the defensive coordinator battles cancer and continues to receive treatment. This is a far more important issue than any out there, and everyone is praying for Johnson. In his stead, Sean McDermott is running the defense.

That's the list. I'm sure there are other things to do, here and there, but these are the main items. It has been a grand off-season for the Eagles, who continue to look for ways to make a Super Bowl run this season.

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