It was, by most accounts, a typical day in the Eagles locker room at the NovaCare Complex. The players were loose after practice on their way to meetings. There was a lot of laughter and energy. And other than a really huge throng of added media, you wouldn't know that the Eagles are anything but a 6-3 team trying to gain a key division win on Sunday night.
I spent Wednesday afternoon during the 30 minutes reporters are permitted in the locker room after practice trying to get a general sense of what is going on. I spent time with four players -- Michael Vick, the star; Jerome Harrison, the new guy who made his mark on Monday night; Mike McGlynn, a new leader along the offensive line; and Antonio Dixon, the happiest guy in the world as a starting defensive tackle and key contributor in his second NFL season.
All four have different stories and all four deserve praise for their contributions to this team ...
MICHAEL VICK, quarterback
He answered questions at his locker before practice and then again after practice. The sports world just can't get enough Michael Vick. This time, Vick answered questions for about four minutes. For nearly two minutes, Vick answered questions about his performance on Monday and his level of play. Then the subject turned to the considerable work Vick has done for the Humane Society, and the frequent appearances he makes.
Then he was asked about the request from the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his jersey that he wore on Monday night.
"It was awesome," he said. "It just goes to show that the hard work is paying off."
Vick actually is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Cleats that he wore from his days with Atlanta -- specifically a game in 2002 against Minnesota when he ran for a touchdown in overtime -- are already in the Hall.
Is a bust in Canton, Ohio something he dreams about?
"I dream about it and hopefully if I work hard enough and continue to accomplish great things in this game, I'll get voted in one day," said Vick. "Who knows?"
Finally, he was asked if there are times when he wakes up thinks about where he was two years ago. It is a question that probably produces the most revealing answer about what is important to Vick.
"I think about it all the time. That's my motivation. That's what drives me," said Vick. "Every time I step on the field on game day, it's like Christmas to me. I was in a prison cell, in a prison cell watching football. Now I have the opportunity to play the game that I love."
**JEROME HARRISON, running back
This is a new world for Jerome Harrison, and he is embracing the moment. Stuck in a bad playing situation in Cleveland, Harrison was traded to the Eagles in October and broke out on Monday night with a 50-yard touchdown run, more than 100 yards on the ground and a place within the offense.
Welcome to Philly, Jerome.
"I could feel the different right away, as soon as I got off the plane," he said, laughing. "Nothing at all against Cleveland. I enjoyed the fans and the city and the opportunity I received, my teammates. But this is the place. This is such a great team. It's a breath of fresh air for me to be an Eagle in this offense. This team is so young and talented, and there is so much positive energy. It's hard to explain."
Harrison fits in with LeSean McCoy in the backfield and likely earned himself some confidence from the coaching staff as he has picked up the offense quickly, gone on the field and produced and has been a great presence in the locker room.
Moving from one team to another in the middle of the season isn't easy, but Harrison has been a good, firm, more-to-come fit.
"I'm going to keep working at it. I have a lot to learn, take it day by day. This is an amazing scheme and nobody is selfish here. Everybody just wants to win," he said. "You feel the stability here. We're winning. That is what is expected every day."
**MIKE McGLYNN, center
Not too long ago, Mike McGlynn was an anonymous backup offensive lineman here, waiting for his chance to play. Once Jamaal Jackson was injured in the opening game, McGlynn stepped in.
And stepped up.
The starting center of an offensive line within an offense that has been as dynamic as any in the NFL of late is rushing to a meeting. McGlynn is all business, and with good reason. He has a lot on his plate every week preparing to be the brain of the Eagles offensive line playing against complicated defenses -- all of them different -- trying to get their paws on Vick and the skill players here.
"It's all experience for me. The more I see, the more I learn," said McGlynn. "I'm a much better player than I was even a couple of weeks ago, but I know I still make mistakes. I'm really stepping in, getting a lot of help and working hard. I'm a very tough critic and I know how I've played each week. It's gotten better each week, I think. But there are always things to improve on."
McGlynn, a fourth-round draft pick in 2008, was originally a guard before he started taking major reps at center late last year. Now he is the guy, and the Eagles have supreme confidence in him. Next up: A ferocious Giants pass rush.
"They are good up front," he said. "They have a good front four and they do some things that are going to challenge us but we're excited for the opportunity to play against these guys. I take it as a big challenge. We're going to be rocking on Sunday night."
**ANTONIO DIXON, defensive tackle
Is there a more pleasant surprise than Antonio Dixon, signed off of waivers prior to the 2009 season as a who-is-he? player and now a starter at defensive tackle.
He credits hard work and improvement in his technique for his development. Rory Segrest gets the kudos here for bringing it out of Dixon, who came to the Eagles as a strong, raw rookie from the University of Miami.
"I'm shooting my hands more. That's what they wanted me to do all off-season. I'm working on it every day," said Dixon. "I used to get by just because I was strong and had raw talent. You can't do that here."
Dixon is quick off the ball and he has that brute strength. He is a fraction of what he could be if he continues to develop as he has to this point. That is exciting to think about. Maybe, just maybe the Eagles can steal the thunder on Sunday night from a New York front four that has gotten so much attention.
"Nobody cares about playing time. As long as we get the job done, go out there and win the game," said Dixon. "To be here now is great. Two years ago, I wasn't drafted. Nobody wanted me. I was real down about that, but my Momma told me to keep my head up and keep on playing hard and it has paid off so far."