Enjoy the down time. Embrace the understanding that what you have now, the final weekend without Eagles football this year, is upon you. Clean out the garage. Tend to the garden. Starting next weekend, the Eagles are back and the anticipation level is off the charts.
Tough last several weeks, right? Not much going on. Bits and pieces of news, that's all. The Eagles took care of their business way back in June and then spent this month of July in various states of rest and relaxation.
But come Monday, it's all systems moving forward. The training camp staff will be settled into Lehigh University. Fencing in place. Stands constructed. Fields in perfect shape.
When the curtain rises, the Eagles will be ready for the thousands of fans who attend on a daily basis. Training camp at Lehigh is unlike the rest of the NFL's training venues. Most teams have hundreds, maybe a few thousand fans, on a daily basis. The Eagles fans pack 'em in each day, every day.
So the madness is straight ahead. Don't you just love this time of the year? The Eagles have a very good football team. That much we know. Can this be a great football team, a Super Bowl-winning football team? It begins next Sunday when rookies and selected veterans report to Lehigh, and then gather on the practice fields Monday for the first of their two-a-day practices.
And everything that has been written and said about the team since free agency began, since the Eagles began re-shaping their roster after the devastating NFC Championship Game loss in Arizona, means absolutely nothing. Zilch. What matters is how the Eagles perform on the field, how they withstand the inevitable injuries, how the new players fit into the goings on here, how some of the key players who have more or different responsibility from past seasons – Shawn Andrews, Brent Celek, Victor Abiamiri, Quintin Demps, etc. – elevate their games.
So it is, literally, right around the corner. No more killing time. No more b.s. here filling space until something real happens. The Eagles have made major changes to the roster in the months that have gone by. The offensive line is 60 percent different than that day in Arizona. Demps is now a major piece of the defensive puzzle. Leonard Weaver provides a very real option at fullback. A handful of rookies could come in and make contributions.
Jim Johnson remains on his indefinite leave of absence, casting a major concern. We have talked about all of this.
Very, very soon, the action will do the talking. Very soon, we will be in the best time of the year. Football season is on the verge, with so many great possibilities waiting.
NEWS, NOTES AND THIS *AND THAT *
- No comment on the* *specific report from Scout.com's Adam Caplan that the Eagles brought in Hollis Thomas for a look, but it would make sense. Why not look everywhere and anywhere for a player who can help the defensive line in a reserve way? Thomas would make a good reserve lineman who can play 15 snaps a game and play with energy. I just don't knowwhat kind of shape the guy is in.
- Good news that the legal part of cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu is over. He was acquitted a couple of days ago of the charges that came his way while in college, so now that hassle is behind him. It's time for Ike to win a job. He has good skills, but certainly has to show up every day in camp to win a backup cornerback job.
- Nothing to report on the Jeremy Maclin contract front. Just thought I would let you know.
- Rookies and selected veterans report next Sunday. Who are the selected veterans? Some of the players who were injured last year, plus the quarterbacks and maybe a young veteran who can benefit from the more individual time with the coaching staff. Probably about 30-35 players in all.
- I really enjoyed the piece from John Clayton on ESPN.com lauding the combination of Andy Reid and Tom Heckert running the personnel part of the Eagles. It's true: This is an excellent twosome in place, with great people around them. Just gotta win a Super Bowl here, guys. That's the only part -- and it's a huge part, I know -- that is missing.
- Good battle to watch in training camp at backup linebacker. Can Charleston Hughes, who stepped up in the spring, win a job fresh out of the CFL? It would be quite a story if he does. Stay tuned.