Jackson: Hamstring Is 100 Percent
In his first season in the NFL, DeSean Jackson really didn't want to make the wrong first impression.
That's why signing his rookie contract before training camp - a four-year deal he agreed to on Sunday - was so important to him. He's ready to get onto the field and become the playmaker the Eagles drafted him to be.
"It's huge for me," Jackson said. "The last thing I wanted to do was to leave the impression that I wanted to hold out and not get into camp. ... I'm here, and I'm glad I'm here, and I'm ready to just get to football and make everything happen."
The contract isn't the only good news for Jackson. A hamstring injury that sidelined him during the OTAs is 100 percent healed, he said.
Jackson figures to contribute immediately on special teams, a position at which the Eagles desperately needed a playmaker after an abysmal season in 2007. He also should see time as a slot receiver.
In the midst of all the excitement, he found it funny that the day after signing the big pro contract he'd waited his entire life for, he was back moving into a tiny dorm room.
"It's back to step one," Jackson said. "It's back to football."
Celek Reports Early After Being Limited By Injury
Brent Celek was part of the selected veterans group that arrived to Lehigh early. The sophomore tight end did not participate in any of the OTA's or minicamps because of surgery required to fix his shoulder.
"This is good for me to get the rust off and start playing football again," said Celek who claimed that he's 100 percent recovered.
The fifth-round pick caught 16 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown in his rookie season. He is now healthy and prepared for the physical challenge that training camp presents.
Training Camp Couldn't Come Soon Enough For Moats
Ryan Moats might be more excited than any other player to get back on the field.
The 5-8, 210-pound running back missed all of the 2007 season after he broke his ankle in a preseason game against the Ravens. He admits that it was hard for him to have to sit on the sideline and watch his team play without having the ability to contribute.
"I've been working really hard," Moats said. "I said the first day when I broke my ankle, on that field in Baltimore, let's start working right now. Let's not waste any time."
Moats, now in his fourth season, is fighting for a spot on the roster once again and he has no problem with it.
"Competition has been a big part of my life for a long time, from the bottom all the way up to the top and I don't mind it," he said. "That's why it's called football. It's not a big deal to me and I'm looking forward to this camp."
DE Smith Tips The Scales At 245, Where He Needs To Be
Getting in shape for the season isn't defensive end Bryan Smith's biggest goal for training camp. He's way past that.
It's why the third-round pick from McNeese State hopes that Lehigh University's rolling hills won't be used for conditioning, something he's been doing ever since the June OTAs ended.
"Man, I hope I don't have to run up them," he joked.
Sitting on a bench outside of his dormitory, Smith said he's hasn't been looking too far forward. He's spent the past month working out to prepare for camp, and he's bulked up to 245 pounds. It's almost exactly where coaches want him so he's in the best place to compete for a spot as a speed-rush defensive end. However, he will undergo an MRI on his hamstring and is sidelined for the time being.
"They haven't really told me my role. It's pretty much just go out there and show them what I can do. It's training camp," Smith said. "They'll see where they can put me."
Demps Not Fazed By The Heat
Quintin Demps has heard the stories - training camp is long. It's rough. And by God, is it hot.
But the rookie still pulled into Lehigh University on Monday wearing jeans. He wasn't sweating. The sunny, warm but relatively breezy day in Bethlehem doesn't faze him - a UTEP alum - in the least.
"It feels way better than Texas," he said. "You don't think so? The Texas heat is killing right now."
Demps enters his first training camp as one of the more interesting stories on the squad. The Eagles were happy to use a fourth-round pick on a player who can be used in so many different ways.
Demps figures to get reps at safety, cornerback, kick returner and punt returner, adding depth to the secondary and hopefully a much-needed playmaker on special teams.
Still, the jack-of-all-trades won't let on to what he feels his best spot would be.
"I'll have to get back to you on that one," he said. "It's the same thing. You move backwards."
Gibson: Just Like Home
Mike Gibson says Bethlehem, Pa. reminds him of home, well at least the scenery.
"It reminds of home in Napa, California" Gibson said. "We have a lot of mountains and valleys and trees and stuff. It's beautiful up here. It's a great atmosphere so that will be nice."
Gibson's second home, battling in the trenches on the football field, is what he is most worried about.
"We have a great offensive line and what I've got to do is just worry about myself," said Gibson. "I'm sure that's everyone else's goal too because if you do that then you'll be competing for a job. My job is to compete and we have a great offensive line, so it's going to be tough."
The veterans that Gibson has so much respect for have given him some good advice for his approach to training camp.
"Work hard, try your best that's all they told me," he said. "Jon (Runyan) has told me quite a bit about what to expect and I think I am ready."
Mays Is Ready To Put The Pads On
Joe Mays has definitely brought the most luxuries from home out of the rookies. He also has brought his powerful tackles and hard hits, so you know he is looking forward to putting on the pads.
"I'm very excited," Mays said. "I get a chance to show why they drafted me. My physical play, my toughness and how I play football is why they got me here. I just want to show it."
The camp will be brutal, as Mays was informed from those who have been through it all before, and still he is looking forward to it.
The fact that Mays will be trapped in a dorm for three weeks makes him feel like a freshmen in college again, but with a new set of concerns.
His biggest fear now is not making the team.
"But I know if I come out and handle my business I will make the team, so I'm going to leave that far in the back of my mind for right now," said Mays.
A Mattress Not Fit For A King
King Dunlap has been working out, running and fine tuning the areas of his game that offensive line coach Juan Castillo wanted him to improve. He has been in contact with Castillo since the Organized Team Activities in June, but he admits he is still a little nervous.
"I don't see anything wrong with being nervous," Dunlap said. "Being too nervous could be your biggest problem but I have a little bit of nerves running through me right now."
Beyond the football field, Dunlap and his 6-8 frame are sure to encounter some difficult nights in the dorms of Lehigh University.
"(The beds) are comfortable enough," Dunlap said. "It's barely long enough but you just have to make do with what you got. It's not as big as my bed at home but it will do for right now."
The Eagles' seventh-round draft choice may not know what to expect, but he will find out soon enough. All he can do is bring a good attitude and maybe next time a bigger mattress.
Former Rookie Free Agents Inspire McBride
Among the early arrivals was perhaps the rookie free agent most under the spotlight, former Delaware State wide receiver Shaheer McBride.
And it's precisely those reasons why McBride's drawn the watchful interest of fans - he's a local guy (from Chester) and his position happens to be among the Eagles' most scrutinized.
Not only that, but 2007's opening day roster featured two former undrafted rookie free agents at the wide receiver position, Greg Lewis and Hank Baskett.
Still, McBride plans to make his own luck. He hasn't yet spoken to Lewis and Baskett about what specifically to expect. Now, he's going to take the time before the bulk of the veterans come in to make his impact.
"I think it's a great opportunity for us to get extra reps and learn the offense," McBride said. "It's a pretty good accomplishment (to be here). But it just shows how far I have to go now."
Studebaker: The Bare Necessities
As he stepped out of a team shuttle at about 12:30 PM, Andy Studebaker looked around tentatively, and finally cracked a smile. He had heard about training camp from his veteran teammates - about the heat, about the sweat, about the work. Now, he knew it was time to find out about it for himself.
Carrying just a suitcase and a backpack with the bare essentials for survival, he said he was looking forward to getting on the field.
"I left my hyperbaric chamber and my plasma (TV)," Studebaker joked. "(I brought) just what you see, some clothes and my playbook. I'm ready to go." Studebaker figures to be competing for one of the final outside linebacker spots on the 53-man roster. The rookie sixth-round pick played defensive end at Wheaton College.