Free safety Macho Harris remembers what it was like to report to the NovaCare Complex just a year ago as a fifth-round draft pick from Virginia Tech.
"Lost. Fear of the unknown. A lot of stuff was running through my head," Harris said. "I was sick too. I was facing a lot at this time last year."
Somehow, someway. Harris started in Week 1 at free safety despite never having played the position in college. Harris, understandably, went through his growing pains and in the process Quintin Demps and Sean Jones held the starting role for a while.
It was in Week 16 of last season when Harris decided what one of his top priorities would be in the off-season. He realized this by watching former Eagles great Brian Dawkins play for the Broncos.
"I watched B-Dawk last year for the first time ever live just to see the type of athlete he is. He's ripped and shredded and everything. I put it in my mind that maybe I need to get bulked up like that to fly around and throw my body around like he does," Harris said.
And he did. Harris has thrived in strength and conditioning coach Barry Rubin's new weight program and has defined his body while adding a few pounds of muscle. The size difference was noticeable on the field as the post-draft mini-camp got underway Friday. What was also noticeable was his comfort level on the field.
"Last year I was really thinking. I think that really limited by playing ability," Harris said. "I gave 98 percent instead of 100 percent because I was thinking."
Harris will need to continue to make strides because the Eagles made an emphasis on adding depth at the safety position in the off-season. The Eagles signed veteran Marlin Jackson from the Colts. The Eagles used a second-round pick on South Florida's Nate Allen.
"I was taught when I was younger (to) never worry or never stress something you can't change," Harris said. "Those are things I can't change. That's out of my jurisdiction. The coaches do a great job of bringing guys in and filling in certain spots. They're very successful as you can see. I'm not questioning that at all. I can't worry about it."
For now, Harris is lining up with the first-team defense at free safety. But just as Harris took the spot by the end of training camp last year, nothing is set in stone.
"It feels good, but it's just mini-camp," Harris said. "It doesn't mean that I've solidified the spot at all. I still have to continue to do what I have to do to earn that spot, to continue to be in that spot."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 7:22 a.m., May 1