The rookies arrived, starting just after noon on Thursday. Moise Fokou was the first one in, whisked straight away to sign his contract for the weekend, then to get fitted for his equipment, then to take his head shot for the team Yearbook and the networks and finally to meet with Director of Player Programs Harold Carmichael.
Here. There. Everywhere.
Football is here for the weekend. The Eagles have their five practices scheduled for the impeccable fields of the NovaCare Complex or, should poor weather invade, the indoor facility at the Complex. It is an exciting time.
The football part of it is a dry run, if you will, of things to come. Running around in shorts and a helmet for three days tells the coaches only so much. There is some drama to cover, of course, as reporters will flock to see how Sheldon Brown feels about being here, and as we hear from various players on the changes made over the course of the months gone by.
There are two things on my wish list. One, no injuries. The memory of running back Correll Buckhalter going down in a heap in 2002 is still vivid. Keep this team healthy through these non-tackling days and I'll be happy. Second wish: That the players recognize what special season can be in front of them with the talent assembled on this team.
I wanted an off-season resembling what the Eagles did prior to the 2004 season and that's what the front office delivered. Big moves. Impact additions. Tense moments. An aggressive approach to the draft. Done. All done.
What the Eagles have now is a roster that appears to be as complete as any they have had in many, many seasons. How true that is remains to be seen. Every day that goes by and the coaches evaluate what they see on the field means the Eagles are another day closer to knowing what they have, and which players to count on this season.
At this very moment, the rookies are arriving in waves. The veterans know to come in for the magnificent dinner served at the NovaCare Complex before the team's full-squad meeting, the presentation made by NFL security and then the position-by-position classroom meetings.
And then it's time to get into the hotel, get into the playbook, and then have a good night's sleep before practice begins on Friday a.m.
That's where we are today. Waiting, watching and preparing as the football part of the football season hits home this weekend.