Most of them are wide-eyed and taking the 100-miles-an-hour approach to this training camp, their one chance to impress the coaches and make an NFL roster. For a handful of the players who reported to Lehigh University on Monday, it was relatively old hat, the first rung on a tall ladder of a season. For a player like Michael Vick, well, it was a totally unique experience.
Vick knew what was coming. He knew that the incident at his 30th birthday party would be a major issue, and the media fired questions from every angle. They blasted him, blasted him good, and Vick stood up and explained his accountability. He did a fine job.
Kevin Kolb did what he always does: He answered questions directly, honestly, and without any hesitation. He is ready for his first training camp as a starter in this offense.
How about the rest of the day as three dozen Eagles (37 by my count) reported to Lehigh University ahead of five practices of refreshing what they learned in the spring and preparing for the onslaught of tempo that arrives when the veterans report later in the week? Not much to report. All good on the Eagles front. Three veterans are here to continue their rehab -- center Jamaal Jackson, offensive guard Todd Herremans and defensive end Victor Abiamiri -- and will begin training camp on the Physically Unable To Perform list. My sense is that Herremans will be ready to go when the rest of the team arrives and that Jackson and Abiamiri will be brought along slowly, smartly, until they are fully recovered from knee injuries.
Monday was a day to start it up for 2010. The fields at the Goodman Campus look absolutely fantastic. The scene is tremendous. You walk to the practice fields and, seriously, your blood starts boiling. It's Eagles season! It's football season!
It is time to get excited.
The next three days aren't going to tell much of a story. No tackling. No full pads. These practices are designed to give the newest Eagles a chance to further integrate themselves into the schemes and get them as close to full speed as possible for when the entire team is here and the practices are full speed, and full contact.
My two cents on Vick: The Eagles are 100 percent a player Andy Reid referred to as a "very nice guy" at least a couple of times in his first training camp press conference. Vick has been a standup guy with the Eagles, he has been a standup guy with the media and he has been a pleasure to work with. At this point, all I care about is whether Vick is ready to help this team more than he did last season. He looked terrific in the spring and is certainly motivated to be great this year.
A role for Vick? How about 10 snaps a game as the Eagles spread the field and give defenses packages that emphasize speed and versatility. Kolb won't have a problem with Vick's presence. There is no threat here. The two understand their roles perfectly.
If there is a cloud over the start of camp, it is that neither first-round pick Brandon Graham nor second-round pick Nate Allen was signed as of late Monday night and while Reid indicated that he thought Allen was closer to signing than was Graham, there was still no word late into the darkness. Both players need to be at camp. Both players are expected to help the team this year. Every day that goes by without them will be a day of concern.
But those deals will get done in time, hopefully sooner rather than later. The NFL needs to do something with this system, but that's another story for another day. What we're talking about here is making sure two young players are as prepared as possible to help this football team. Missing practices doesn't help Graham or Allen, or the Eagles.
Practices the next three days will give us all an idea of how much the young players have retained mentally. We'll watch Kolb and Vick. Then the pads go on and the hitting starts and the fans will be flocking to the practice fields and, well, how can you not feel it? The season is here, in training camp form.
A team that has so many unknowns gathers, comes together, becomes a real entity. Each day we'll learn more about a team that is more of a mystery now than it has been in many seasons.