New middle linebacker Matt Wilhelm took a red eye flight last night which landed at 9:45 this morning. He had a physical at 11 AM. He was fitted for his equipment, had a few minutes to drop his stuff off at the dorms before grabbing a quick bite to eat and heading to the A. Haigh Cundey Field House at Lehigh to undergo his first practice as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Wilhelm was released on July 24 by the Chargers after spending his first six NFL seasons with the team. Now, he has a chance to compete for the starting middle linebacker job with the Eagles after Stewart Bradley injured his knee Sunday night.
"It's unfortunate that Stew had the injury that he had," Wilhelm said. "It seems as if work must go on and they have their best foot forward. It seems the organization thinks bringing me here is doing that."
Since Bradley's injury, Joe Mays has taken the reps as the first-team middle linebacker. It remains to be seen where Wilhelm will be in the pecking order. But seeing the fan turnout for Tuesday afternoon special teams practice quickly made Wilhelm realize the opportunity that he has in front of him.
"I think (vice president of player personnel) Howie (Roseman) did a great job persuading us to play for a team that has fans turn out for a special teams practice. I think the following here is phenomenal. The opportunity to play for a Super Bowl each and every year and to start for one of the top 10 defenses in the National Football League is really why I'm a Philadelphia Eagle."
Of course, Wilhelm spent the last five seasons playing in a base 3-4 with the Chargers. The last time he played in a 4-3 was his rookie season of 2003 and at Ohio State where he won a National Championship. He knows that a lot of his free time for the remainder of training camp will be spent in the playbook and in the film room.
"It's going to be tough. I think some of my break hours are going to be with coaches in the meeting rooms and getting into that playbook and really digging in and trying to find some of the similarities and differences ... They brought me here for a reason and I'm going to do everything I can to be out on the football field contributing," Wilhelm said.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 3:58 p.m., August 4