Unable to work with his players on the field because of the continuing work stoppage, Reid got a small taste of what it's like to work with young football players Tuesday night when the players in this year's Philadelphia Eagles City High-School All-Star Classic took part in their walk-through in the indoor practice facility at the NovaCare Complex. Before practice began, Reid spoke to both teams about the special bond among football players and the importance of working hard on and off the field.
"It was a nice deal," Reid said. "It was good to see the kids. What a great opportunity for them."
The game, contested between the All-Stars from Philadelphia public schools and non-public schools, takes place at 2 PM this Saturday, May 21, at Lincoln Financial Field. But for Reid, the opportunity to spend time with the football players was, in many ways, a reminder of what his coaching staff has been unable to do so far this offseason.
"Listen, this is what we do, we coach," Reid said. "Would we like to have the players here to coach? Absolutely. We'd like to have that. But that's not the way it is right now, so you put your focus on other things and you make sure that you take care of business in other areas."
What type of business exactly? Right now, preparation is the name of the game. Neither Reid, the owners, the players nor the fans knows exactly when football activities will be resumed. Will there be mini-camps and Organized Team Activities? Will there be training camp? If so, how condensed could it be? These are all complicated questions with many potential outcomes, and Reid has to be ready for whatever happens.
"As we speak, we're going through training camp and making sure that we have all the different scenarios set up according to when this thing might happen," Reid said. "If it happens day one, that's great, we've got a plan for that. But if it happens a couple weeks into camp, we've got it taken care of. If it happens before the first game, we've got that taken care of. Anything else, we don't need camp after that.
"We are ready whenever they open the gates, we'll be ready to go. The coaches know that vacation this year is a little bit different. You don't want to be taking camel rides through the Sahara desert. You don't want to do those this year. Kind of save those for another year and stay close within striking distance and you can come in here if we're given time to knock out a three-day mini-camp, all we have to do is put a date on it, we've already gotten it written up, drawn up, the books are ready, we're ready to go."
What about free agency? The final picture of the Eagles' 2011 roster is far from formed, with many 2010 Eagles who don't have contracts and could return, along with the array of unsigned free agents elsewhere who the Eagles could have their eye on. Once again, Reid said, the Eagles are prepared for anything.
"We've got the plan together and it's a good, aggressive plan," Reid said. "When they say go, we're ready to go. It's a matter of that time coming forward. We'll attack what we feel is important. ... We've got a pretty well-thought-out plan. It doesn't really matter what the time is."
Meanwhile, without the supervision of the coaching staff, some members of the Eagles roster are likely to have their own, informal practices. While he's had no communication with the players about any such workouts, Reid acknowledges the potential benefit. He also said it was "a great thing" that quarterback Michael Vick has reportedly set up some of the workouts.
"I know the players throw and catch - that's important to maintain your timing," Reid said. "Then you get the defensive backs in there, the linebackers, they can go in and cover. Those are things that they can get out of it. I know they communicate - old guys communicate with young guys, that's how it works. So things can get taken care of there. Is it practice at the same tempo that you're going to do here? No. But it at least keeps them fresh and keeps their timing up so when they have an opportunity to get back to practice, they're a step ahead of where they would normally be."
For now, Reid and the rest of the coaching staff are biding their time until, as Reid says, the gates of football open. When that time comes, there won't be a moment to waste, especially for a team with an 11-player draft class, which comes on the heels of last year's 13-player haul.
"You want as much time as you possibly can have." Reid said. "You've got young guys that you're incorporating into the offense, defense and special teams and that takes time for those guys to learn. If you ex-out the mini-camps, OTAs, you're taking time away from these young guys learning and then you're putting an extra burden on training camp there, where they normally would come in and have an idea of what they're doing. Now they're coming in and learning new stuff right away. Again, you do what you have to do. You make sure you have it well thought out and planned. And as coaches, we're here as teachers.
"We take a lot of pride in being good teachers. Well, whatever scenario that we're given, we'll try to let our talents take care of that."