- A full roster reports and the players have a long first day. They hit the field on Thursday for the first time in Training Camp.
Get an inside look of the Philadelphia Eagles arriving for 2018 Training Camp.
"Good afternoon! Hey, welcome back. Welcome back." At precisely 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday in the auditorium of the NovaCare Complex, head coach Doug Pederson kicked off Eagles Training Camp, 2018 as he stood before his team as he said those words, introduced the roster to the Eagles organization and had the players fill out necessary paperwork before everyone filed out and enjoyed a surf-and-turf dinner in the cafeteria and then a 7:15 p.m. meeting with their position coaches to close the night.
It was a busy day for the players on Day 1, taking care of the essentials. They had physicals to take, a conditioning drill to pass, and an NFL rules-and-regulations meeting at 2 p.m. At 4:45 p.m., after a team snack, all players and coaches assembled in the auditorium as Pederson addressed the entire team and introduced some key members of the organization.
Day 1 of Training Camp is always a special occasion with the players and coaches excitedly reuniting after five weeks away. It is very much "go" time for the Eagles, but the truth is that the team has been focused with a turn-the-page mentality since the spring Organized Team Activities. On Wednesday, the energy bounced off the walls of the NovaCare Complex. This team has an air of confidence and camaraderie that comes after winning the Super Bowl, of largely being together for the past few seasons, and knowing, after seeing everything that happened last season and in the spring, just how special this season ahead can be.
Training Camp was already in full mode on Day 1, even without having the first practice – which, by the way, runs from noon until 2 p.m. on Thursday with players wearing helmets and shells in the 10-10-10 format (10 plays for the offense, 10 plays for the defense, repeated three times, with special teams having two 10-minute practice periods). The equipment staff was busy preparing the locker room and the uniforms. The athletic training staff had treatments and rehabilitation stations ready to go.
The marketing and operations sides of the organization put the finishing touches on Training Camp at the NovaCare Complex, complete with the dressing along the walkway for the fans when they enter the Complex parking area and walk to the practice fields. Radio highlights from the 2017 season featuring Merrill Reese and Mike Quick boomed in the open air, adding excitement to the welcome-to-the-moment realization that the season is here, upon us. Every team is 0-0. There are many rungs on the ladder to climb between now and the Super Bowl.
Truthfully, once you boil it all down, there isn't much different in the day-to-day operations for the players and coaches other than, of course, the urgency of the situation. The Eagles have 12 days of practice – pads are first worn on Saturday, July 28 – before they open the preseason at Lincoln Financial Field against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The plan is to have at least a couple of those days – next week, likely – include "live" periods where tackling is permitted.
It's a very similar format to what the players experienced throughout the spring, with a significant difference that the days begin early in the morning and last past 8 p.m. and that the mental grind for players is every bit as demanding as the physical one.
"I don't think anybody likes camp," defensive end Brandon Graham said in the spring. "You learn to make it through by staying in your playbook and taking care of your body and making sure that you get your rest. That's the big thing. It's all football. You don't let anything distract you from football. That first year, woooooo. It was hard, boy. But once you experience it, you understand what it takes to make it through and then get right for the season."
Wednesday was a great first day for the Eagles. The energy level was obvious and exhilarating. The players are ready to attack Training Camp. The Super Bowl, the rings, the Lombardi Trophy, all of that is part of a glorious recent past. It's just that, though, the past. The Eagles are living in the present, and as Training Camp opened on Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex, the focus was on the next step forward and the challenges that are ahead, not the accomplishments from last season.
As the introductions ended, Pederson brought Reese to the front of the room. Nobody has enjoyed the Super Bowl victory as much as Reese, entering his 42nd season as the Voice of the Eagles. Nobody deserves to wear the ring more proudly than Reese, who has been through all of the ups and downs of the franchise's fortunes for more than four decades.
"I've been waiting 42 years to say this: HELLO CHAMPIONS! GOOD EVENING, SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS!" Reese said. "Boy, it feels so great to say that."
It feels so great to feel it, yes. That feeling, combined with a full roster of players returning with the intention to defend the Lombardi Trophy, made for a great Eagles day to kick off Training Camp, 2018.