Philadelphia Eagles News

FS Brian Dawkins

On whether he feels the first practices of camp set the tone for the season: "I don't know if they set a tone, but you just want to get out there - I was messing with some of the guys on the field - you want to get your shoulder pads and helmet way in there. We have our shorts and our t-shirts optioned and ready, but it's a little different when you put the pads on. It's a whole new thing trying to get back used to the pads and stuff. It's just an exciting thing. As much as we say 'we don't like it' and all that, on the other hand, you really enjoy putting the first day of pads on."

On whether he fed off the excitement of the crowd today: "I don't know about played off it. I told you guys this whole offseason, I'm very excited about this year. That's not (just) words, I'm really jacked up. I was a little bit too hyped at the beginning of practice. I had to calm down then because I was just so excited to be back on the field feeling healthy. I anticipate a very good season. I'm having a good time with the fans. That's all a part of training camp."

On whether he's excited about aspects of the team this season in addition to his health: "I'll honestly say, mainly my health. The other aspects of the team, yes, absolutely. They pile on, in a good way, as far as my feelings and my anticipation of what we're going to be as a team. But, my health, the way that I feel right now, makes me understand and know that I can do what I need to do like I've always done it. That makes me feel great."

On how he would compare himself now to last season: "Night and day. It's not even a comparison. Not even close. My whole mindset, we all know the story, but my whole mindset, physically, mentally, spiritually, everywhere was all on a different page last year. My concentration is fully on training and getting my body back in shape to be whatever I need to be for this defense."

On the people that say he can't do it anymore: "You use that as motivation. I don't know of a guy, in any profession, that would not use something like that as motivation. You can say, 'that doesn't bother me,' we ignore it, but you're using it as motivation. Anybody tell you you can't do something, I've been told that a lot of times in my life as far as being too small to play safety. I was told that 'you're not big enough, you're going to have to play a nickel corner or something like that when you come into the league. You're not going to last.' I've had to overcome a lot of people telling me negative things and that's another thing: 'you're getting old, you're 35, who can play the way that you play at 35?' I use it as motivation. I train a little bit harder. I'm not going to go into this season trying to prove anybody wrong, I'm just going to go out and do what I can. And, if it proves them wrong, it's a good thing."

On CB Asante Samuel's injury at practice today: "I don't know the severity. He was able to walk off - it was a little gingerly - but he was able to walk off and that's always a good sign. I don't know the severity of it. Hopefully he'll be able to get back on the field pretty soon."

On whether he's curious to see how the team's three cornerbacks will work together in a game: "Hopefully, by that time, we'll kind of know, and they'll kind of know how it's going to be. Nobody really knows how it's going to be right now, and so when that time comes the potential for us to make plays in the secondary with the talent we have is tremendous. That is something that will be a lot better when we finally figure out what it is going to be like."

On the young linebackers: "First of all, the speed. The cats can move, every last one of them. (LB) Omar (Gaither) played middle (last year). You saw how many PBUs (pass breakups) he had last year, and learning in his first year. What Stew (LB Stewart Bradley) was able to do in a short, limited role last year, the cats can run. (LB) Chris (Gocong) can move all over the place. That's the first thing you see is the speed and potential that way. And then, obviously they're learning on the fly. They're going to make some mistakes, but the potential for those guys to make plays totally outweighs any negative. That potential, it is there for them to be a really good linebacker core."

On how much he has anticipated camp: "It is hard for me to sit here and tell you after 13 years, 'I remember this year, this was the best year.' I can't do that. Too many hits to the head and I can't remember all that stuff. But, I can tell you this is one of the most excited I've been about going into the season. I can tell you that. In 2004, I was jacked up because I felt great about that year. I feel great, personally, physically, and where this team is headed right now. The potential we have, defensively and also offensively also, with (QB) Donovan (McNabb) being healthy. You saw what he was able to do on one of his scrambles; he was able to pull away."

On the difference between where he is now physically compared to last year: "I don't know if I could put a number on it, but if you asked me to put a number on it and I say I'm a 10 right now, I was about a five last year. I was nowhere close to where I needed to be to play football, and it showed."

On whether he knew he wasn't in good enough shape to play last year: "I knew that. I was just hoping I was able to get into shape before the season, but it didn't turn out that way."

On whether he likes the 30-plus club: "Absolutely. I love it. If you give me a couple of days here or there to sit out and relax a little bit, I'll take it. I'm not one of those guys who is scared to tell people my age. I'm 34 and I'm happy to be 34. When I get on the field, I don't know what a 34-year old player is supposed to play like, but that's not in my mindset. All I know is, if the ball is in the air, I have to get it. If a big hit has to be made, I'm going to make it. If I have to go through somebody to get to the quarterback, I'm going to do it. As far as taking time off, I'll take it every time. Every time."

On whether he likes being an underdog: "We are three or four years running in the underdog role. I've been there in the past, let's put it that way. Where people don't (think we can) go anywhere. 'They have Todd Pinkston and James Thrash at receiver, how are you going to go anywhere?' We wound up going pretty deep, and that's because we felt good about one another. We felt good about the camaraderie, we felt good about the coaching staff, and we felt good about the direction we were going. I think we feel that same way now. Obviously, we have a bunch of young guys we are going to have to jell together, but we feel pretty good about this season. I know I feel really good about this season, so outside doesn't really matter."

On how he felt when the team signed CB Asante Samuel: "I've always said that in the right situation, to have three Pro Bowl corners is a great thing. We had it in the past with Troy (Vincent), Bobby (Taylor) and Al (Harris). They were different circumstances completely, but we've had it in the past. If it can work out, which (CB) Sheldon (Brown) said it can, so if one of those guys said it can work, then it can work. We will see how it irons out if (CB Lito Sheppard) is here. That is potentially a great, great secondary to put on the field. Along with the speed up front that (defensive coordinator) Jim (Johnson) is going to mismatch with guys up front. That is a pretty good defense on the field."

On what his reaction was to the Giants trading TE Jeremy Shockey: "None really. He's out. I loved to play against him. I'm still going to have to play against him at some point. We are still going to meet up with the Saints at some point and I'll have to cover him. I always loved playing against him. My job would change a little bit when we play the Giants. I won't have to be eyeing him all the time like I have to do a lot of times, but it doesn't really make a difference."

On how satisfying it is for him to sign autographs for the fans after practice: "It's very (satisfying). Fans plan this years in advance, financially, sometimes or a lot of times, to come out and have a good time out here. For me to be able to spend just a little time over there and sign some autographs and have a good time with them, it's a good thing. You're going to make a big deal out of this, but I'm going to say it anyway. I've said this before: this is the last year of the deal for me. If this is my last ride, I want to make sure everybody is very happy with the outcome of the season, whether it's signing autographs or holding up that trophy in the end. That's where I am with it."

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