It all begins on Sunday when the coaching staff reports to the NovaCare Complex and fine-tunes what is to come next: 42 days and nights of Training Camp and preseason preparations before Labor Day arrives and all attention turns toward the September 11 opener at Detroit. If 42 days and nights seem like a lot, then you've never been through this before. It flies past, and the teams that prepare the best maximize the time to put together the best 53-man active roster, along with a practice squad and a lengthy emergency list to gird for the marathon of a 17-game regular season.
Welcome to Training Camp, 2022, and it just couldn't get here fast enough. The players report on Tuesday and take physicals and then the player conditioning test before the meetings – team, special teams, offense, and defense – begin.
On Wednesday, the Eagles hold their first practice in the morning and then have a walkthrough in the afternoon as camp kicks into gear and doesn't let up a whole lot until early September. Included are joint practices at Cleveland and Miami, respectively, before those preseason games.
"You have to come in ready to be at your best every day," linebacker Haason Reddick said. "So, how we handle the time after the OTAs in the spring, that's an important time. You have to take it seriously because when camp opens, it's time to go."
Ninety players is a roster maximum and that gets whittled to 53 in late August and that, along with continuing to install the schemes in all three phases of the game, is the focal point of the next six weeks – finding the best 53. The Eagles have transformed the roster through the course of the last two years and now have a promising blend of youth and experience.
It's quiet now at the NovaCare Complex. It's not going to last. In only a few days, the 2022 Training Camp begins. It feels like we've waited a long, long time to get to this point.
NEWS, NOTES, AND THIS AND THAT
1. As is usually the case, the weather is heating up in Philadelphia just in time for Training Camp. The temperature is projected to be in the 90s when the players report and it could stay that way at least through the first week of practice. Head Coach Nick Sirianni kept his players on the field last year anywhere from 75 minutes to 90 minutes per morning session and that is likely to continue. Keeping the players healthy is a priority, so working efficiently on the field is critical to get enough reps for all 90 players.
2. The Eagles will travel to Berea, Ohio, for a couple of days of practice before the August 21 preseason game at Cleveland and then return to Philadelphia before heading to Miami to work against the Dolphins in joint practices before the August 27 preseason game. The time, then, at the NovaCare Complex, will be limited. Last year's joint practices at the Jets were beneficial both from a football standpoint and a chemistry-building perspective, so the long time away from South Philadelphia in August can really be a plus.
3. Sad news late on Tuesday evening regarding the passing of former NFL wide receiver Charles Johnson, who played for the Eagles from 1999-2000. He caught 90 passes for 1,056 yards and eight touchdowns in his seasons here, including the one from then-quarterback Doug Pederson to beat Dallas at Veterans Stadium in a game that was so memorable for other reasons. One, it was Andy Reid's first victory as the Eagles' head coach. Two, a tackle by safety Tim Hauck injured Dallas wide receiver Michael Irvin and ended his career. Said Johnson after the game: "It was a dagger route. The plan is to clear the inside coverage out and the outside receiver comes underneath 18 yards deep. The goal is to have the coverage follow the inside receiver." Johnson was an Eagle for only two seasons, but he helped the team in those early Reid years with his professionalism, his positive attitude, and his work ethic. "A great man who loved the game and who understood how to be the perfect teammate," cornerback Troy Vincent said.
4. After the release of cornerback Craig James on Monday, the Eagles have 12 cornerbacks on their roster, which currently stands at 89 players. The roster movement that was so active in the spring will be something to watch in the coming days and weeks.
5. Some recognition for the Eagles' fine offensive line, as right tackle Lane Johnson was voted as the seventh-best tackle in the NFL in an ESPN poll of coaches, league executives, and players, and right tackle Jordan Mailata was named on the Honorable Mention list. What it means is what we all know: The Eagles are in great shape in the trenches along the offensive line starting on the edges with Johnson, of whom ESPN said, "surged back into the top 10 after injuries wrecked his 2020 campaign. His 94.9% pass block win rate was second best among offensive tackles, and he was solid against the run (76.2% run block win rate, 17th at the position). All of this was good enough for an All-Pro second-team honor."
On Mailata, ESPN said, "Mailata isn't a marquee name leaguewide but might be by this time next year. At 6-foot-8 and 346 pounds, Mailata held down the left side for Philadelphia with a 79.8% run block win rate, fourth among tackles."
"Really impressive and really big," an AFC scout said. "Watching his (Rugby League) highlights from before he came into the league and then when he first started with (Philadelphia), I was like, 'Man, this dude is awesome.'"