With just under three weeks remaining until the season opener against the Rams, the pieces are beginning to fall into place and players are beginning to get comfortable in their new roles.
One such player is rookie kicker Alex Henery, who, along with punter Chas Henry, will make up the first all-rookie specialist group the Eagles have rolled out on opening day since 1979. Henery believes that through training camp he's become comfortable with Henry, his new holder, and veteran long snapper Jon Dorenbos.
"Working with the snapper and holder were the big things," remarked Henery. "Just getting used to those guys, and going out there and getting confidence in myself and earning the trust of the coaches.
"Getting more relaxed as the games go on, having trust in the long snapper and Holder, and going out there and making kicks (are the things I'll be focusing upon)."
The Hen(e)rys, roommates at Lehigh University, have become close friends off the field, which Henery believes has improved their chemistry on the field.
"We spent, pretty much, most of the time (at Lehigh) with each other," Henery said. "It's nice to have another rookie come in and go through things the same (way). Jon has helped us both a ton since coming here. He's been great for both of us."
Special teams coordinator Bobby April agreed that Henery has improved considerably since arriving at training camp last month, noting that the rookie actually benefitted from the less-than-ideal field conditions at Lehigh University's practice fields.
"He kicked a lot better (at NovaCare)," April noted. "That Bethlehem field is not the best, but that's not a bad place to train on. I think it's good training for a guy. I think for every guy coming into the league, there should be a grapes of wrath period because not just everything is laid out perfectly for you. I think it's really good that he trained there."
The rookie kicker, who turned 24 last Thursday - the day of his second career preseason game, agreed with April's observation.
"It's better to kick on a bad field and then go to a good one," Henery said. "It just makes you focused on the little things more, because if you're on a bad field it really shows those weaknesses."
On the new kickoff rule this season, which moves the spot of the kick from the 30-yard-line up to the 35-yard-line, Henery, who has booted all five of his kickoffs this preseason into the end zone, was admittedly pleased.
"It helps me out," Henery said with a chuckle. "I like the rule. I don't think kick returners really like the rule. But it helps the kickers out."
Henery's third preseason game comes Thursday against the Browns. He didn't attempt a field goal in last Thursday's preseason game against the Steelers. He's been thrown into the fire early, and this will be an opportunity for him to show everyone that he can handle the heat.
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