Everybody is sick of training camp. Trust me on that. Three weeks have come and gone, and while the work has been productive and the team optimism is high, it's time to go. Wednesday morning is to be greeted with whoops and hollers and the promise of more intensity ahead. Love ya, Lehigh Valley, but it's time to hit the road.
I've been right there every step of the way since the rookies and selected veterans reported on July 21 and between the many storms at Lehigh, the unusual water main break and the strangely cool weather, the roster has started to sort itself out. Here are some observations ...
- Fullback remains an extremely fluid situation. Jed Collins is taking repetitions with the first-team offense, and has been since Sunday. Collins has come a long, long way since the Eagles signed him in the post-draft period in last April. Collins was, honestly, an afterthought from this perspective through the spring drills. He was sidelined for a time in the spring after undergoing an appendectomy, but Collins sure has bounced back. The Eagles hoped that Jason Davis would take advantage of the situation and seize the position, but clearly that has not happened.
The battle is far from over. The Eagles may be trying to shake things up and see how Davis reacts. I don't know. I do know that Collins, undrafted out of Washington State, is doing all the right things in his bid to make the team. While Davis remains No. 1 on the depth chart, Collins is pushing. Luke Lawton has not made his move yet, but there is time. The bottom line is that the Eagles need one of these players to get up and play well and clearly earn the job.
Hey, I know the fullback position plays only a small percentage of the time in the offense. But the position is important for pass protection, for leading the halfback into the hole and for being an option in the passing game. Davis scored a touchdown against Pittsburgh and seemed to do OK. Two days later, he was running with the second team. The game tape -- the eye in the sky, as they say -- clearly doesn't lie.
- Of all the rookies, linebacker Joe Mays has made the biggest move up the depth chart. He is the second-team middle linebacker, coming off a good game against the Steelers. Mays is undersized, but he has been undersized his entire career, so that isn't really an issue. Mays and Pago Togafau are going to take it to the end of the preseason to determine who earns that roster spot. Mays is in the lead right now. He has the right mentality and the right approach to make it.
- I need to see more from defensive end Chris Clemons. He shared a sack with Trevor Laws in Pittsburgh, but I would not be surprised to see the Eagles give Clemons more reps to give him the chance to show he can be an all-around end. Clemons is huge in the defensive line equation. He has to step up and play tough against the run and not simply settle in as a one-dimensional end.
- Speaking of defensive end, don't discount Victor Abiamiri just yet. The Eagles will update his status in a couple of weeks, but the hope is that he comes back and helps this season. When? Don't know. Fingers are crossed. The Eagles are high on the kid.
- I have to wonder if the fans/media members who are still wondering if the Eagles will go after a "No. 1" wide receiver before the season starts are watching this group of offensive skill players. The Eagles have a very good group. Do you all see that? They have versatility in the ranks and they have speed and a high skill set. I know the offense has to go out and prove it, but, boy, it's it's exciting to see every day in practice. Heck, did you see the offense when Donovan McNabb was on the field on Friday night? Judge by what you see, not by the vocal minority.
- I've been watching a lot of the tight ends and both L.J. Smith and Brent Celek look great. Celek has really picked up his tempo the last week or so and he is ready to be a good option in the passing game and a good piece in the run game for his blocking. Smith looks terrific. He made a beautiful catch and run on the sidelines the other day that was super-encouraging.
- I'm just guessing, but it says here that Shawn Andrews won't practice until the Eagles return to the NovaCare Complex. After two relatively light practices on Tuesday, the team has a mock game on Wednesday and then it's game time on Thursday night against Carolina.
- I will be surprised if Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith plays on Thursday. He suffered a concussion in the preseason game last week and is not going to push things here.
- Quintin Demps has taken some reps at cornerback with the hope of becoming a safety-cornerback whom the Eagles can use throughout the secondary. Demps is working on his back peddle and some of the technique things he needs at this level.
- I've watched Asante Samuel the last two days and see a great, great player. He may only be 90-95 percent, but Samuel closes so well and has such great technique that you see immediately why the Eagles went out and got him in free agency.
- Amazing to me that ESPN.com sends Matt Mosley to training camp to do a story on Donovan McNabb and the Terrell Owens angle emerges. Is this newsworthy? The guy hasn't been here since 2005. How about a story on how great McNabb looks, rather than the Owens angle and the "I-don't-know-how-long-I'll-be-an-Eagle" story that Mosley wrote. Give me something better than that, please.
- Speaking of reporters, Yahoo.com's Jason Cole was here on Monday. Cole wrote a story back in the spring on DeSean Jackson and ripped Jackson. I wonder if Cole was in camp to do a story on how Jackson caught five passes in his preseason debut, or how Jackson makes big plays every day in training camp. Why do I think I'm dreaming? ...
- A final word: You will see the fade pattern in the red zone this season. More than once. When, I don't know. Against whom, I would only be guessing. But the Eagles are throwing it in camp, and it is working. I love it.