Doug Pederson promised that he would conduct a physical Training Camp and it has lived up to his words. An example was Friday in a let-it-fly practice that lasted nearly three hours filled with some snot-knocking contact that the players and coaches loved.
"It's going to make us tough as hell," offensive tackle Lane Johnson said as he came off the field. "When games get tight and stuff gets on the line, we're going to be able to push through. It's what I had in college and it's what I'm getting back to now. It develops our mindset. It feels good. You want guys to be tough so that when the game is on the line, the team is going to come through. It's an old-school feeling and I like it."
What the Eagles are doing now is a dramatic departure from the way they conducted camp in the previous three seasons. Former head coach Chip Kelly did not believe in tackling to the ground for fear of injury and the Eagles won 10 games in 2013 and another 10 in 2014 before last season's 6-9 record when Kelly's tenure ended.
Pederson, from the Andy Reid school of how to run a Training Camp, has told the team from Day 1 that he demands toughness and sacrifice and that he wants a team that dares to be great. He wants his players to go after it 100 miles per hour every day.
"It's about a mindset, mostly about a mindset," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "I think it's developing a culture of what the expectations are, and there is a practicality to it. This is a physical sport and you have to be physical all the time. You can't just turn it on and turn it off. You've got to find different ways to create that physicality.
"One of Coach's big mantras has been, 'Fear nothing, attack everything.' He's said that to us as a team, in this short period of time, 20 times. 'Fear nothing and attack everything.' You've got to be fearless. That's what this game takes, so that's what we do."
On this Friday, a particularly physical practice, the Eagles held their collective breath as tight end Zach Ertz went down with a head injury, but was quickly cleared of any possible concussion. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews injured his left knee, but will only miss a few days of practice. Defensive end Marcus Smith suffered a concussion.
So far - and we're keeping our fingers crossed here - the Eagles have gone through two weeks of Training Camp without any major injuries. There have been some pulls and tweaks and strains, but nothing that is feared to be long term.
The hitting continues. The physical culture is being established. The Eagles want to be a tough-guy team mentally and physically. There is no more "finesse" in the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I love it. I love the competitiveness," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "I promise you, today, I was so tired. Exhausted. I left it all out there. I felt that way before with Chip, but this is different. Hitting people is a different kind of physical. We ran a lot with Chip. We had that kind of conditioning. But now we're out there looking to hit and take it to the other man.
"It's different for the defense because we've got a coordinator in Jim Schwartz who is so intense. He demands for us to be physical. He'll call us soft when we're soft and he has nothing to say when we're doing good. I love a guy like that who is going to critique you and give it to you real instead of kind of letting stuff kind of build up. He wants us to get after it, and if we don't, we aren't going to be on the field."
Pederson's practices approach three hours on a daily basis - players are permitted on the field for four hours a day, so the afternoon sessions have been one-hour walk-throughs - and he is taxing his players for a reason: He wants them ready to go in September. He wants the Eagles to be a bully. He wants the Eagles to win in the trenches, and to win the fourth quarter of games and the months of November and December in the season because they are accustomed to the grind.
A veteran like tight end Brent Celek played under Reid and Kelly, and he has had success in both systems. A benefit that Celek feels is being ready for the preseason, which opens on Thursday when Tampa Bay visits Lincoln Financial Field (7 PM kickoff, Comcast SportsNet and Cozi TV in the Philadelphia area).
"This is a physical game and having a camp like this gets you ready for the regular season pretty fast," Celek said. "I think another thing is that this kind of camp gives you confidence for the preseason games. If you're never going 'live' (tackling), there's kind of that element like, 'Wow, you know this is going to be the first time in a long time that I'm getting back into it and that I'm going to be tackled.' It's good from a mental standpoint that we've already been in these situations.
"Doug knows when to be physical with us and he knows when to back off. It's very similar to what Andy ran and those camps worked very well for us."
That sound you hear from the NovaCare Complex on a daily basis is pads popping and whooping and hollering as the offense and defense go at it in practice, as they push each other to win jobs and impress the coaching staff. It's a physical camp, just as Pederson promised. He wants his players ready to impose their will, starting the instant they step on the field and compete.
Fear nothing and attack everything. It's the Eagles' way under Doug Pederson.