This has a chance to be one heck of a football team. That is Statement No. 1. There is a long way to go, but as the Eagles wind into the final couple of days of this camp, those who are watching the practices all say the same thing: This team is faster than it has ever been, and this team potentially has more depth than it has ever had.
We'll know more about that later, when the pads go on. Trust me when I tell you that the coaching staff and the personnel folks are taking a much more conservative and realistic approach. The game changes completely in training camp, and then again in the preseason and then, of course, the regular season is an entirely different animal.
Anyway, there are a couple of ancillary topics to touch on, so let's do so now, for what it's worth ...
**REPORT: EAGLES GIVE DE A PHYSICAL
Reports say that Kentucky defensive end Jeremy Jarmon was scheduled to meet and take a physical with the Eagles on Tuesday, but there was no confirmation that it happened. If it did, the Eagles are simply performing their due diligence on a very talented player at a position that the Eagles clearly value. Jarmon is likely to go through many visits between now and July 16, when the NFL's Supplemental Draft is held.
Here is how it works: Teams use 2010 draft picks on any player they select in the Supplemental Draft.
So what is Jarmon worth? That remains to be seen, but he was extremely productive in college and he's 279 pounds and if a team out there is convinced he is the real deal, it will use a high pick to try to get Jarmon. Why would the Eagles be interested when they already have six defensive ends they really like? Simple. Because the Eagles know they can't have enough defensive ends. It is a premium position.
Now, what the Eagles have is pretty darn good. And it will be even better if Victor Abiamiri blossoms like the team believes he can, and if Bryan Smith matures and becomes stronger in Year 2 and if Darren Howard shows he has plenty of gas in his tank and if Chris Clemons is the player he was at the end of last season. All of those scenarios aren't likely to happen -- it just doesn't work that way in the NFL -- but if a few come through, the line will be really, really good.
As for Jarmon, we will find out on July 16 how much the Eagles truly like him.
**SAMUEL: WHAT DOES HIS ABSENCE MEAN?
In the big picture, the fact that cornerback Asante Samuel is not here for the final week of OTAs means very little. If the reports are true that Samuel is missing to handle some family matters, that's fine. If he failed to tell the coaching staff of his intentions, that's wrong.
As far as the idea that Samuel's absence hurts his role as a leader on the team is something I very much doubt. I think players understand how much Samuel means, how well he prepares for the game and what his energy and intensity every day does for this football team. So, no, I don't think Samuel is hurting his standing in the locker room at all.
**ANYTHING NEW WITH McNABB?
Oh, he looks great this spring. Donovan McNabb is clearly ready for a huge season. He in great shape and is having a good time out on the field and with the team. But what about the contract? Nobody is saying anything, and because nobody is saying anything, the suppositions out there are that something is up. But what?
I like the way McNabb has approached this story. Continuing to answer questions heightens the scrutiny and the chatter. What McNabb has done is shut down the story by not talking. He will talk at training camp, I assume, and everything will become clear at that time. Or before that time, if all the smoke in this story becomes the fire of some kind of new deal for McNabb.
The practices have been good and spirited and the coaches have to be pleased with how the young players have picked up on the tempo of practice and the demands of the coaching staff. And everyone can see those players new to the system improving each day.
- This is the week when the Eagles devote a portion of their practice to the NFC East. On Monday they worked against the offensive and defensive schemes of the Redskins. On Tuesday, it was the Giants. The Eagles still have the Cowboys and the Panthers, their opponents in Week 1, to work on before the OTAs are over.
- I watched David Akers, who has had a great spring and has shown range from about 60 yards, work on a cool drill on Tuesday morning. He lined up and kicked from three yards beyond the end zone over the goal posts and across the end zone. I thought maybe he was trying to shape his kick and try to kick the ball through the uprights. No. Akers does the drill to measure the wind at the top of the uprights, a neat little trick of the trade that I just thought was interesting.
- If I had to rank the depth chart at wide receiver based strictly on this camp, I would go with this: DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant, Reggie Brown, Jeremy Maclin, Hank Baskett, Kevin Curtis. The injury to Curtis is healing, but he has been limited. I'm sure this ranking will be subject to change when camp heats up in August.
- I watch the offensive line go through its drills and, yeah, it's a mammoth group. Athletic, gigantic, strong as can be. Can't wait to see them in one-on-one drills in camp.
- I am playing the 53-man roster in my head and the secondary is a tough, tough call. The Eagles can't keep five cornerbacks and five safeties, so some quality players are not going to make this team. And, yeah, special teams in the preseason games mean everything. A job or two will be won there.