BETHLEHEM, Pa --A reporter walked into the interview tent following Sunday afternoon's Eagles practice and muttered, "Unrest. Camp Unrest." I looked up. "Unrest? You mean the injuries?" "No," he said. "Andy Reid doesn't even know if Shawn Andrews will be there for the opening game."
Oh. See, Reid had been questioned about Andrews during his press conference earlier, and the first time Reid was asked if he had a sense of when Andrews would return to the practice field. The answer was simple and honest.
"I don't. He is getting better though, that I can tell you," said Reid. "I've just got to see how it goes here day by day, but he is making progress."
Fair enough. No reason to give any specifics if there are none to give, but it was encouraging to hear Reid said that Andrews was improving. A few questions later, Reid was asked if he thought Andrews would be able to play by September 13, when the Eagles open the regular season in Carolina. And Reid was consistent with his first answer.
"I don't know that. I can't tell you that. I just know that he's getting better," said Reid. "But, until he's out here I can't predict that."
Somehow, from the perspective of one reporter, it is now Camp Unrest for the Eagles. Welcome to Andy Reid's Eagles Year 11. And while this camp has been anything but smooth sailing for the head coach, boy, you wouldn't know it from Reid's demeanor. He hasn't changed. He doesn't change. He won't change in the face of anything sent his way. No matter the crisis, Reid is the calm among the stormy seas.
Let's be thankful for that. Appreciate the focus and the consistency of Reid as he guides the Eagles down the final stretch in a training camp that has had its share of challenges. Reid looks out at an offense that is missing Andrews, running back Brian Westbrook and -- for a morning, DeSean Jackson and guard Todd Herremans -- and sees a razor-sharp quarterback in Donovan McNabb, a rookie running back in LeSean McCoy who has been a standout since Day 1, a fullback in Leonard Weaver who is ready to offer a dimension Reid has never enjoyed at the position and young players all around who have gotten better each day they have hit the field.
Instead of mourning the injuries to middle linebacker Stewart Bradley and tight end Cornelius Ingram, Reid points to opportunities for players like Joe Mays and newly-signed tight end Rob Myers.
Reid won't submit to the negativity.
"I don't even look at it that way. I go the opposite way and just say it's an opportunity for other guys to step in and play," said Reid. "Thank goodness we have the kind of guys we feel comfortable with that can do that. It's no different than the season, you move on man. It's a shame that those things happen, but the reality is that the next guy has got to step in and play, and play well.
"They're getting great reps out here and there's a great attitude. I don't think anybody is hanging their head about anything. They were all very confident and the new guys stepping in seem confident."
The reporters tried to pry it out of Reid. He must be feeling stressed that he has had injuries and Jim Johnson's death, and a young coaching staff and the off-the-field issue last week with Juqua Parker and Todd Herremans and all of these inconsistencies and interruptions and distractions that no coach wants to face.
Reid didn't flinch. Doesn't flinch. Will not budge from his view.
"That's all part of the game and that's the way I look at it. I really haven't even thought about it to be honest with you," said Reid. "I just go and whatever is there that needs to be handled, we'll handle it."
This is what a great leader does, ladies and gentlemen. I know Reid's press conference style isn't exactly a hit with the fans -- or the media, for that matter -- but who cares? I mean, who really cares if he gives less-than-meaty answers? I look for moments like the ones throughout the press briefing on Sunday when Reid was poked and prodded for weaknesses and came up steady and faithful to his beliefs every time.
This is not the time for hysteria, or for doom-and-gloom predictions. Reid is the leader here. Make no mistake about that. He is a strong-character man and head coach, and the team follows his lead as it has done since 1999. You think there have been more injuries, more major injuries, in this training camp period than in years past? Maybe. Maybe not.
Reid won't look to the past. He has his sights set on the here and now.
"We've had a few in the past. People have asked me the same question but, I don't know stat-wise if it's more or less," said Reid. "I don't really care at this point. I care about the way the guys that are out here are playing and what they're doing."
That is all that matters for this football team. Reid has this thing about being a coach's coach, a man's man. There are no tears in this game. Winning in the NFL is about having the best focus and the proper team chemistry and the discipline required to go out on Sunday afternoons and beat another highly-skilled team.
Reid has enjoyed a strong run of success here because he coaches that way. There are no punches pulled with Reid, who understands the ups and downs of a season as well as anyone, and who knows that the calm-and-steady approach is what is right for taking the Eagles out of training camp and into the preseason.