On the football side, the building is empty, as it usually is this time of the year. Training camp opens in less than three weeks, in a normal timeframe. Of course, nothing is normal when we are in an NFL work stoppage.
When the news comes that the doors are open for business, the tempo will be much different around here. Vacations that normally extend right up to the start of training camp will be cut short. The frenzy will be on. The Eagles will schedule visits with unrestricted free agents. The telephones will ring non-stop fielding trade conversations. The negotiating team will have a lot of work signing non-drafted rookies, dealing with the current roster of players and their contract situations and then signing the drafted rookies. Oh, and free agency is going to be crazy for that part of the organization, too.
The athletic training staff, which hasn't seen a player in nearly four months, has to provide physical examinations and updated information on rehabbing players coming off of injury to the coaching staff. The strength and conditioning department, dormant since the work stoppage began, has to get a very accurate sense of how players treated their time away from the NovaCare Complex. The equipment staff has to fit each player to perfection.
Madness. Can't wait for it to start.
In the meantime, it's quiet at the NovaCare Complex. There is a tremble of anticipation, to be sure, and there is constant chatter among the average guys like me about "what the team is going to do" when it all starts.
Soon, very soon. The Eagles, as we have discussed numerous times in the past four months, have a plan they intend to execute. They have strategized since the playoff loss to Green Bay. They have revamped the coaching staff. They have scrutinized the roster. They had the draft and remained patient and selected the players they wanted to take.
The big picture is right there in the NovaCare Complex, behind one of the closed doors. It is a strategy put together in the course of hours of meetings and conversations and analysis of what the Eagles have, and what they think they need to win a Super Bowl.
It is a plan ready to be hatched. Get the Collective Bargaining Agreement done and ....
Here are some of the things of which I am convinced that I kinda sorta feel about the team moving forward ...
- I think Stewart Bradley is a really interesting case. Good football player. Good guy in the locker room. Injuries the last couple of seasons that have been of great concern. How does he fit in here? Is he the middle linebacker with Jamar Chaney sliding over to the WILL spot? What is Bradley looking for should he become an unrestricted free agent? Would it be better for him to stay in this system for another year, at least, and get healthy and stay healthy and play his best football where he knows the coaches and has a feel for the scheme? Of all of the Eagles potentially heading toward free agency, Bradley's situation is maybe the most difficult for me to read.
- Is there any way the Eagles could -- or would -- keep both David Akers and draft pick Alex Henery on the roster for the entire season? I mean, if the transition tag the Eagles applied to Akers is upheld, could they keep both players? Is that the ideal situation?
- Nobody really talks about the safety positions, but they are both extremely intriguing to me. If Quintin Mikell leaves in free agency, the Eagles are going to be extremely young back there with a rehabbing Nate Allen alongside Kurt Coleman/Jaiquawn Jarrett/name it. Why do I think veteran Marlin Jackson, despite all of the injuries he has had, could be a real factor?
- Casey Anthony not guilty? These made-for-television scandals really aren't what they used to be ...
- You can say you heard it here first, but I believe King Dunlap pushes Winston Justice very, very hard for the right offensive tackle job. And that center is far from settled with Jamaal Jackson, Mike McGlynn and even A.Q. Shipley getting long looks.
- Is there a position I haven't discussed 10 times since March 11, when the work stoppage began?
- Not sure I want DeSean Jackson on punt returns this year. I wonder how much it takes away from his burst off the line of scrimmage late in the season. I recognize him as a superstar punt returner and, clearly, what he did against the Giants on December 19 goes down as one of the all-time plays in franchise history, but does returning punts take away from him as a wide receiver?
- December 19, by the way ... the last win for the Eagles. Oh, it's been too long!
- The Eagles were able to give Todd Herremans days off here and there last summer to make sure his aching foot suffered no damage prior to the season, and then Herremans had a strong 2010 campaign. With such a short period of time to work in preparation for 2011, Herremans is going to have to make sure his foot is right every day. It is something to watch.
- It goes back to the draft years ago, but I always liked Sinorice Moss. Looking forward to seeing him in practice.
- Still waiting for good news, definitive good news on the negotiations front. Until then, I'm just going to keep buzzing around, finding out what I can find out, speculating about everything and praying for the start to the 2011 season any day now.