The entire Eagles roster took the field for the first time Thursday, and what stood out the most was the team's energy.
Despite practice being closed to fans, the squad maintained a high energy level throughout. For DeMeco Ryans, the team's prized new middle linebacker, this was a great way to start Training Camp.
"Everybody has those first-day jitters," Ryans said after practice Thursday. "It's good to get out here on the first day and work those out and get ready for the next day and try to get better.
"Football is a game of energy. When you can create your own energy, it definitely helps. When you're on the road and your fans aren't there, guys can get each other up and get everybody else excited, and it helps out a lot."
This Training Camp will be unlike any the highly decorated linebacker has experienced in his seven-year career. Instead of leaving town, the Texans hold their Training Camp at their team facility. However, Ryans sees being away from the facility as a definite positive.
"Being here at Lehigh, it's a little different," he said. "But it's nice because it brings all the guys together. We're together, and it's going to build a tight team camaraderie."
(It's also going to be a little cooler – "This time in the afternoon in Texas, you probably wouldn't want to be outside," he said, laughing.)
Ryans comes to Philadelphia with a stellar résumé. Drafted with the 33rd pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, Ryans was immediately named a starter for the Texans and went on to become Defensive Rookie of the Year. In five seasons with Houston, he was voted to the Pro Bowl twice and received All-Pro honors in 2007.
Ryans is now being asked to anchor a defense that has been without a linebacker of his pedigree since the days of Jeremiah Trotter. Still, he maintains that he isn't worried about the pressure that comes with playing the position in Philadelphia.
"I'm just focused on my job, first and foremost," Ryans said. "My job is to make sure everybody is lined up properly, make sure I have my assignments down, make sure I'm correct on what I'm supposed to do and be able to make plays. That's my job, and then everything else, it'll fall into place as we continue to go along.
"My goal is to step out there this year and prove that I'm the best linebacker in the league. That's a goal of mine each year, and it's something that drives me and makes me focused on what I have to do, and that's all about being the best."
In Houston, Ryans was known as the unquestioned leader of the Texans' defense – his teammates even affectionately nicknamed him "Cap." But Ryans said he has no plans to force himself into a leadership position. Instead, his plan is much simpler.
"You just have to be yourself," he said. "And that's one thing I'm going to do is be myself. And all those things will come."
Linebackers coach Mike Caldwell said Ryans' actions speak for themselves.
"He doesn't have to come in and say anything or do anything," Caldwell said. "He'll come in and be diligent. He studies. He does the extra things that other guys don't do, so the younger guys see that and they're just going to gravitate to that, and that's going to become them."
While expectations are high for Ryans this season, the linebacker is just happy to be back out on the field.
"I'm just excited to be out here, back again," he said. "Football season is here, so I'm happy."
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