Before I go any further, here's a shout out to the fans who filled the stands in the afternoon. A hearty crowd came out to cheer on the Eagles after a long offseason. There was a walkthrough in the morning -- it lasted an hour -- and then a break of nearly six hours before the 3:30 p.m. afternoon practice.
So what did we learn from the first Monday of training camp? Let's think for a moment ...
- The offensive assistant coaches met the media after the morning walkthrough and did a good job explaining their perspectives of the players, of the situations here. Running backs coach Ted Williams is clearly high on his young backs, so it's understandable why the Eagles passed on a veteran halfback in favor of drafting Bryce Brown and signing Chris Polk after the draft. One tweak in the practice routine is the implementation of a pass protection period every day, devoted exclusively to the backs showing their toughness and technique against blitzing linebackers. "I want to see them do it every day, day after day," said Williams. "I'm looking forward to seeing this group with the pads on, to seeing how they react to the speed of live action. I like what I've seen so far."
- If Howard Mudd gives his stamp of approval to the group of offensive linemen, as he did on Monday when he said this offensive line crop was as deep as he's ever coached, then I have total confidence in the line. No worries at all. Give Mudd someone who can be molded and he will mold.
- Cornerback Cliff Harris had a pair of interceptions in the afternoon and was clearly the star of the practice. One came on a tip on a pass over the middle and the other was when he had coverage down the sideline and picked off a Trent Edwards pass. Harris isn't ready to speak to the media -- he clearly wants to focus on the here and now, and not drag out his past -- and instead let his play do the talking. For a kid who missed the OTAs because his class at Oregon hadn't graduated, Harris had the kind of first day that was extremely important. He's in the mix for a roster spot.
- The Eagles worked out punters in the morning and clearly would like to offer Chas Henry a challenge in training camp. They like Henry a lot, and think he is best served by having a player breathing down his neck. We'll see. If I had to guess I would think Mat McBriar is the guy to sign. He was a standout punter before suffering a nasty foot injury. If he's healthy, he could push Henry, at the very least. McBriar made the Pro Bowl twice with Dallas.
- Wide receiver Tiger Jones had a nice afternoon and he's hard not to root for. Jones is 30 and hasn't been in an NFL training camp since 2005, when he was with the Redskins. Since then, Jones has been a star in the Arena League, most recently with the Philadelphia Soul. He played 16 games for the Soul this year and produced 133 catches, 2,010 receiving yards and 47 touchdowns. He left the Soul as the team was on the brink of the AFL playoffs to pursue the dream of playing in the NFL. "It was an easy decision when the Eagles called me," he said. "I'm not done playing football and I'm not done trying to reach the NFL."
- Defensive end Vinny Curry seems fully recovered from his high ankle sprain. He ran well and held up during the afternoon practice. Now let's get the pads on and see how the third-round draft pick fits in.
- Keenan Clayton is part of this camp, and there is no player who needs the reps more at weakside linebacker. Clayton has to play lights out to make this 53-man roster, there's no doubt about it. He hasn't found his niche yet here, and the competition has increased in the offseason.
- I like the way Nick Foles delivers the football, Now let's see him when the action is live.
- Honestly, after one day of rookies and selected veterans, I can't wait for the entire team to report and for the players to wear pads and have contact in practice.
- Finally, the Michael Vick Note of the Day: The "dynasty" quote is history. It's all football now, and he looks great. Vick is in terrific shape and he's got his mechanics down and he really looks comfortable. Can't wait to see him in action when the games mean something.