Philadelphia Eagles News

Mood Of The Team? Way Amped

I can't give you a whole lot about the X's and O's, because we've talked for months about them. Head coach Andy Reid was grilled about linebacker combinations for much of his post-practice press time on Friday, and too much will be made of those and the role planned for DeMeco Ryans, who is going to play a ton, just maybe not every snap. And the reporter then turned their attention to the backup running back situation, given that Dion Lewis has been limited by a nagging hamstring injury and that Bryce Brown may see some reps on Sunday in Cleveland.

Other than that, it's almost "go" time for the Eagles. A roster that has 10 rookies, many of them in key spots, and a handful of newcomers like Ryan, has its first test against a Browns team that is young, that is in search of an identity and that has nothing to fear but, um, well, nothing to fear at all. It's a team that's going to go out and play football.

"First game, you're always pumped up and excited for that first game," said Ryans. "It's nothing different. Like you said, it's like being a rookie all over again. The initial excitement of getting out there, starting a new season, fired up and ready to start off on a great note. The excitement is definitely there."

Michael Vick took a few minutes out to talk to reporters once the team finished its practice inside at the NovaCare Complex -- to prepare for the noise factor, as they have done in the past -- and he answered a handful of questions, most of which he has been asked at least 20 times already. Everyone is so done with the preseason. The players are so bored of the reporters, it isn't funny. They're cordial, they're professional, but boy are they tired of hearing the same thing day after day.

And, hey, the reporters are ready for Sunday to get here, too. Enough of the speculation. If I turn on another show and see a bunch of talking heads pontificating about what might happen in 2012 ...

As for the game, well, I think the Eagles have a tough task. Week 1 in the NFL is the craziest of all, as the Eagles know very well. Andy Reid is only 6-7 in openers, and I don't think there has ever been season in which a good start is more important. I would be shocked if the Browns opened the game with an onsides kick, as a certain team I know did in 2000 in Dallas with great success, but you can be sure the Browns are going to try to do something to knock the Eagles off balance.

Meanwhile, the Eagles have to play loose, confident, aggressive and intelligent football. I just can't wait to see how the team reacts early in the hostile environment of Cleveland Brown Stadium. It's going to be fascinating.

Matchups? I have a few. How do the Eagles attack left tackle Joe Thomas, the anchor of the Browns offensive line? How does Marty Mornhinweg strategize against a Browns defense that is probably stronger in its back eight than in its front three, so maybe running the football is more of an option? I wonder how much better the special teams are with some young legs and some return sizzle.

Does Juan Castillo order a smothering attack and force quarterback Brandon Weeden to throw into tight windows? I admit that I will wonder if I see a lot of "off" coverage ordered for the cornerbacks. I wouldn't see any reason to give Weeden "easy" throws. I expect the Browns to dial up draws and screens and quick throws -- anything to make it easier for Weeden and to keep the pass rush off balance.

As excited as you are, and as I feel, rest assured the players and the coaches feel the same way. It's been a long time coming, hasn't it? Now, for the first time since December, the Eagles are about to get it going.

It's a wonderful feeling, isn't it? We've waited a long time for this, and now it's almost here. The anticipation is such a tease ...

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