Friday afternoon had the feel of full-scale training camp. The tempo was great. The coaches were vocal. The players busted it. It is so, so, so early and maybe it's ridiculous to say, but the etchings of competition are there. The depth chart is forming. I loved it.
One difference here from last year -- aside from a lot of players who take time to recognize -- is the defensive coaches' demeanor. Oh, so different. Jim Washburn doesn't stop talking, doesn't stop urging and motivating in a most unique fashion. He jumps on his players. He challenges them verbally and Washburn seems to notice any player who doesn't run after a play as if his hair is on fire.
Same all around. Juan Castillo wants complete urgency from his defense. He wants his players going up the field -- and fast. There are going to be a lot of X's and O's here that I won't neccessarily understand, but I can appreciate it. The thinking is this: If you don't have to think a lot about what you're doing, you play faster.
The offense looks like the offense. Neither DeSean Jackson nor Jeremy Maclin is here, so a lot of speed is missing. The field doesn't stretch as quickly as when those two are playing. Michael Vick looks to be in shape. The first- and second-string players are getting a lot of reps.
Saturday opens the public part of training camp. It's going to be like a reunion on Saturday when the fans come to Lehigh University. The curiousity factor is high. The fever is boiling. Have fun.
What else here? I'm not going to talk too much about who played well and so on, but I'll provide some highlights ...
- Casey Matthews attracts a lot of attention and the Eagles are giving him a lot of reps. He covers well, I'll say that. He runs well, no doubt about it. Matthews made a very nice interception late on Friday. He gets around the ball, it seems.
- The Eagles ran no huddle in a situational part of practice. Andy Reid wanted tempo, more tempo. Vick completed a couple of balls to Riley Cooper, who looks good, and a bunch of short passes to LeSean McCoy. Jason Avant was a key piece of things, too. I love watching Vick throw the football. You don't realize how much you miss that when you don't see it for so long.
- I think Phillip Hunt is very quick off the ball. I'm looking forward to seeing him in pads.
- Jaiquawn Jarrett seemed to have a very nice afternoon practice. He had at least one interception that I saw.
- Matthews and Jamar Chaney are lining up as the team's nickel linebackers.
- Moise Fokou had an early interception from his outside linebacker position, which is away from the tight end.
- Howard Mudd is quite a technician, but I didn't watch enough of him to characterize his style. Looking forward to seeing him a lot.
That's as far as I'm going to go, because practice has changed so much and they are doing things not full speed. Tonight is a big night. Free agency begins and the Eagles can officially talk about some of the reports that are out there, specifically the agreement to terms with defensive end Jason Babin and quarterback Vince Young.
Right now, I'm in my PhiladelphiaEagles.com tent, going live on the air in 10 minutes. It's about to rain, and by the looks of it it is going to pour. Talk later.