When Brian Dawkins departed for Denver via free agency earlier this year, many fans were left wondering which player would emerge as the team's new leader on defense.
The Eagles are curious on who's going to step up, too.
One thing's for sure - head coach Andy Reid knows he has those types of players on the team. It's just a question of who will rise to the challenge.
"I think you're born with leadership qualities," Reid said. "I think it's very hard for a guy to come into a team, that doesn't have some natural leadership ability, and try to be a leader. Players read through that. We're fortunate enough to have some guys on the defensive side, and the offensive side, that I think have that trait, that leadership trait."
Defensive back Sheldon Brown, the lone defensive starter left from the Eagles' Super Bowl XXXIX team, has shown time and again that he possesses that trait.
Dawkins' protégé Quintin Mikell would be a natural successor, as would defensive signal caller Stewart Bradley. Reid also mentioned players like veteran defensive end Darren Howard, defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley and linebacker Omar Gaither as players that also exude that special quality. Photo Gallery : 2009 Post-Draft Mini-Camp
"What ends up happening is when the older guys leave you see these younger guys take over," Reid said. "That's what you're seeing out there. I think what happens is as time goes on and you get up there at Lehigh and you're banging each other around, your body is tired, your mind is tired, I think those things rise. Those leaders rise up at those times to help out guys that are struggling a little bit to get up off the ground and play another play."
Offensively, there's no question of who runs the show; the Eagles are still quarterback Donovan McNabb's team.
"Right now he's here," Reid said. "He's in a very good place. He was as upbeat and positive and into that practice as you would expect him to be. I would say the same thing about Sheldon. Sheldon was out there and he was fired up."
Despite not talking to the media after the first practice of the post-draft mini-camp, McNabb remains the face of the franchise, a constant in an ever-evolving entity.
"He's done a great job, at least he did (Friday) and he has over the last 10 years of leading this football team," Reid said. "That to me is very important, that he continues to do that and obviously somewhere he'll talk to (the media) along the line here. I haven't really talked to him about that, but somewhere he will talk to the media."
Reid mentioned how important it was for the team to develop camaraderie and that journey began with Friday's practices. The emergence of new leaders, especially on defense, is critical to that development.
"The important thing with this football team is that we have a lot of new people out there and it's important that through hard work we come together and that we gel," Reid said. "It won't be very long before we're opening up against Carolina. We've got a lot of work ahead of us and I think we have the right personalities out there to put the time and effort in to getting themselves right for that opening game."