Bring on the veterans! One practice remains before the entire team reports to Lehigh University and, yes, head coach Andy Reid and everyone here believes that Brian Westbrook and Lito Sheppard are going to be here and that, in the end, the situations will be resolved and the beat will go on. The work has been good here, if relatively uneventful. Two dozen rookies and selected veterans have reaped the benefits of extended practice repetitions awaiting the start of full pads and full contact.
What have we learned here? Let's examine a couple of things ...
- Safety is going to be really interesting to watch. If the Eagles keep five safeties, you can probably say that Brian Dawkins, Quintin Mikell, Quintin Demps, J.R. Reed and Sean Considine are the leaders in the clubhouse, with Marcus Paschal trying to crack that fivesome. I just don't know how, looking at the makeup of the 53-man roster, how the Eagles can carry five safeties. If it's four, I still say that either Reed, Considine or Paschal makes it, and the other two players are out of the picture. Both Demps and Considine have taken plenty of reps in this camp and will be sharp when the entire team practices over the weekend. But it impossible to say much else. The defense hasn't hit anybody yet.
- Andy Reid spoke about the characteristics of the fullback position and had some telling things to say. "You've got to be a good blocker; both in the run game and the pass game. And, then you've got to be able to catch the football. We ask that position to do that. The more versatile you are, the better off it is. And, special teams becomes a big part of that. Your tight ends and fullbacks have to be a part of your special teams. This past year, we got more production out of our wide receivers there than we did our tight ends and our fullback position." Translation: Thomas Tapeh didn't get it done on special teams in 2007, not even close. And the Matt Schobel/Kris Wilson battle could come down to which player performs best on special teams in the preseason. As for this season's fullback battle, it is wide open. Jason Davis has the lead, but Luke Lawton is said to be a great special teams player. Look for him in the preseason games.
- I hope the Eagles give Kevin Kolb a lot of work in the preseason. He looks great. Seems like he put on a couple of pounds and some muscle, and is poise and understanding of the offense is far advanced from last year.
- I see a lot of DeSean Jackson going in motion, which is one way the Eagles want to use him to make sure he gets off the line of scrimmage cleanly.
- Brent Celek is bigger and stronger, and he has to show that he can separate from defensive coverage with the added bulk. Can he still run well enough to get down the field? I want to see him in full pads with contact. He has a chance to build on a good rookie season, and his added strength will be a real plus in the running game.
- Hey, think Reid and John Harbaugh stay in touch? I read where Harbaugh is instituting a 30-plus club for his Ravens team. Baltimore has some age, and Harbaugh is borrowing an idea from Reid, or Reid is borrowing an idea from Harbaugh, or the two coaches talked about it and decided it was a good idea for both teams.
- I see where Rams left offensive tackle Orlando Pace is on the Physically Unable to Perform list. I am sure that Pace will be on the field for September 7, but, hey, my eyes are on the opener, too.
- How many reps will Ryan Moats get at running back once the entire team arrives? Probably not that many, which is why this time is invaluable. Moats has an uphill climb to make this team, no doubt about it.
- I wish I could tell you Andy Studebaker was playing to date, but without contact and without pads, I have no idea. He moves well and he plays fast, but I have to believe he is swimming mentally a lot. Good prospect, great kid and someone the Eagles really want to work with.
- You know what I want to see on Friday, when the entire team practices? A defensive line out on the field! The Eagles haven't had one all week. Very strange.
- Prior to this week, I wondered if a "longshot" candidate to make this roster would emerge. I don't see it yet. I just ... can't ... wait ... to ... see ... some ... hitting. Please. Now.