It should come as no surprise that wide receiver Chad Hall was the last player on the practice field Monday during Military Day at training camp.
The Air Force veteran spent two years serving as a Second Lieutenant at Hill Air Force Base in Salt Lake City, Utah, and worked as a maintenance officer, repairing F-16s. Over an hour after the morning practice had concluded, Hall was still on the field as rain fell from the sky posing for pictures, signing autographs and getting to know the servicemen that he once fought with.
"It's great for these men and women to get out here. They're overseas, most of them, half of the year. To come out here, it's a big deal for them," Hall said. "It's great for us to be able to give back in some way. It's very special to interact with them, see where they're stationed, see what they've been through. ... I know what they've been through. I know what they do. Every day, like when I was, we were fighting and preparing here in the U.S. to go overseas to go to war to fight for our freedom."
But Hall didn't stop with the members of the military. Afterwards, he walked over to the fence and signed for the dozens of fans who hung out after practice. He posed for some more photos, even holding one fan's child. Hall is the type of player that fans want to succeed. At 5-8, 187 pounds, Hall was one of the stars of training camp a year ago and landed on the practice squad for the start of the season. Hall played in eight games and caught 11 passes for 115 yards in 2011. He also scored a touchdown in the regular season finale against the Cowboys. On the ground, Hall added nine carries for 29 yards and also helped out in the kickoff return game.
As good as Hall was in a jack-of-all-trades role last season, he is fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster with the additions of Steve Smith, Johnnie Lee Higgins and Sinorice Moss at the wide receiver position. With the roster at 90 players, Hall knows that he has to take advantage of every rep on the field.
"The coaches talk about making plays when you are given opportunities. You're not going to get many, especially when you're in camp when you've got 90 people," Hall said. "Those few opportunities you've got; you've got to show up whether it's a great block, great catch, whatever it is you've got to do the little things right on every play."
In the preseason debut last Thursday night, Hall led the way with five catches for 82 yards.
"There's a lot less thinking and I have more experience," Hall said. "The receiver position was something I had never done before. Now, more playing less thinking has really played in my favor this year and I do feel real confident."
On this day where the Eagles honor the Armed Forces, Hall knows what it would mean to be on the team for the season opener in St. Louis on September 11 - the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
"It's a big deal. It's one of those things now where every 9/11 you sit back and think that anything can happen to any country, so it's going to be really special," Hall said. "I'm sure there's going to be a lot of military people there. It's just going to be a special day to open up."
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