Now we pause. And we think about what the Eagles are going to look like when the pads go on and the tempo increases and Andy Reid orders "live" sessions with full contact and tackling and, geez, can't training camp start now so we can learn about how good the 2010 Eagles really can be? I'm jacked. I saw enough at these weeks of spring camps, beginning with the post-draft weekend, to feel extremely optimistic about this team's fortunes for '10 and many years to come.
I know the Eagles didn't hit, and they didn't wear pads and they played against each other and with that familiarity comes some recipe for success. Spring opinions sometimes melt in the heat of Lehigh University, but it's all we have for now and with a team that has changed so much in the off-season, those opinions are all we have.
So what really went down in the practices at NovaCare Complex? Some observations ...
- The fact that tight end Cornelius Ingram took part in every practice was a huge positive. He moved very well, he caught the ball well and he gained confidence after missing all of last season with the torn ACL. Ingram is clearly ahead of both Martin Rucker and Clay Harbor -- tough to tell who is ahead between those two -- and he could play a very important role when the Eagles go to two-tight end sets. Ingram has a lot of work to do in the next six weeks, and he will certainly put in the time. He was all smiles after the final practice on Thursday.
- I really like the mature from Nate Allen. He is the starting free safety. There is no question about that at this point. Allen spent some time in our PhiladelphiaEagles.com studio after practice -- check out the video on Saturday morning -- and he knows how much more he has to learn. I'm always impressed with young players who aren't overwhelmed by the moment, and he is not. Allen showed that he can run with high-level receivers, that he can cover sideline to sideline and that he picks up the scheme quickly. Still, Allen has a bunch of work in front of him. He is an exciting prospect. I think the Eagles will be much improved at free safety this season.
- To me, the first five receivers are pretty clearly defined: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Hank Baskett and Riley Cooper. I would probably put Dobson Collins next. But there is plenty of football ahead for everyone.
- Linebacker is going to be a difficult position to factor with so much young talent, but here is what I think I know: Ernie Sims can be a force if the Eagles move him around and find ways for him to blitz, but he is also going to have to be a man's man at the point of attack. The NFC East will run right at him. No finesse there. Akeem Jordan had a terrific spring and Omar Gaither moved around very, very well after his Lisfranc injury. Some of these younger players are going to make it interesting, for sure. Moise Fokou is making nice strides at SAM. Joe Mays is getting better and better and came on big time on special teams last year. I really like Keenan Clayton in coverage. Ricky Sapp and Alex Hall ... fine athletes, long bodies, but are they linebackers or defensive ends in space?
- If I'm Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, I'm hitting the weights and eating everything in sight for the next 46 days before training camp opens. He needs to make sure he has every bit of bulk on him for camp.
- At the end of the day, what impresses everyone most about Kevin Kolb is the way he has naturally ascended into the role of leader and starting quarterback. He throws a pretty pass, he has built great chemistry with his offense and he has his timing in the offense down. From a scheme standpoint, the offense did things this spring that I hadn't seen, so Kolb is going to handle all of the X's and O's the coaches can throw at him. Kolb has an extremely bright future and a star presence, and yet he works as hard as anyone at his imperfections. Kolb wasn't perfect in the spring and he knows it. He wants to keep pushing himself until he is perfect.
- Let's talk right cornerback position. OK, both cornerback positions. Trevard Lindley has come on quite a bit, and Geoff Pope has been around the ball a lot. The most impressive cornerback in the past week was Dimitri Patterson, who had his hands on the football every day. He will enter training camp with a lot of confidence.
- Nick Cole is your starting center. Yes, Mike McGlynn and A.Q. Shipley will challenge, but the job is Cole's at this point. Jamaal Jackson should get on the field at some point in training camp, but he isn't likely to be ready for the regular season. Makes me wonder if he will start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. If he practices once, though, Jackson is not eligible for PUP. So can the Eagles carry him on the 53-man roster into the regular season? Think about it.
- Mike Bell gets five stars for his play this week. He looks great catching the football and Bell is going to be a fantastic complement to LeSean McCoy.
- Very, very crucial six weeks for Todd Herremans, who has to make sure his foot is sound and that he is ready to go in training camp. The Eagles would have a tough time replacing Herremans, although I really want to see how the lighter Max Jean-Gilles fares in camp.
- Finally, a longshot: Fullback Dwayne Wright looks the part, for sure. Leonard Weaver is the fullback here, but Wright has a big body, catches the ball well and we are going to see what kind of physical player he is when the pads go on.