Thoughts and analysis on the Philadelphia Eagles

Common Threads Emerge

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First off, I wanna say that as I write this I'm watching a Ravens/Redskins intersquad scrimmage on the NFL network. This is either really cool, or the most pointless thing on TV. I haven't decided yet...

Second, the quote of camp so far comes from McNabb. McNabb said, "If it means I have to run more for us to move the chains, then that's what I'll do."

There's a nonstop flow of reports and info coming out of training camp at any given time. Every media outlet in Philly, NJ, & Delaware is there on a daily basis, the Eagles website is live practically all the time from training camp,and the national media have all stopped by to spend time as well. The interesting thing is that in combing through the mountain of info that the media is churning is out, a few "common threads" start to emerge. When multiple sources all seem to start saying the same things they seem more and more true. Let's check out some of the more popular points being made.

1) There's a new mood at camp. Everyone from Pat Kirwan at, Peter King of SI, Charles Robinson of yahoo sports, and most every local media source has commented on the positive atmosphere at camp.

Kirwan wrote
Contrary to popular opinion, the team has not fallen apart with the departure of No. 81. In fact, it is safe to say that the 2006 Eagles have moved on. A year ago to the day you could cut the tension with a knife at practice. Now Reid's biggest challenge may be to throttle back the players' enthusiasm so they don't leave their best efforts on the practice field.
Robinson wrote
McNabb turned and took an energetic trot toward the coaches. For a moment, the man who has known little more than pain and controversy for over a year looked genuinely happy. It's a common thread in this training camp, which rolled into full gear this week without major controversy. In other words, nobody showed up in the parking lot rocking army fatigues and headphones and looking like a hybrid of Chuck Norris and Jay-Z. And while the memory of Terrell Owens hasn't exactly been wiped away completely, he's at least been demoted to a second-string topic of conversation.

It sounds absurd, but there is no more dividing up loyalties like a United Nations debate. No more McNabb Bloc. No more Owens Bloc. No more guys stuck in between. The locker room has been devoid of paranoia. The situation got so out of whack last season even a guy like mild-mannered offensive lineman Shawn Andrews began to wonder about the frequent hushed conversations.

"It's really a breath of fresh air," Andrews said. "This year, it's not about what such and such did, or such and such said. This year, guys are playing around. There aren't guys sitting at their lockers whispering. After a while, you'd see guys sitting there whispering, and I'd start to think, 'Are they talking about me?' "

2) LJ Smith is ready to take the next step. I wrote about the quiet breakout season LJ had last year amidst everything else earlier this year. Now, the national media is coming aboard. Peter King(Sports Illustrated) and Len Pasquarelli(ESPN) both raved about him in their columns about Eagles camp. Plus there was my favorite story from camp so far...
During a Tuesday morning "team" drill, tight end L.J. Smith gathered in a pass in the short left flat, turned upfield, and absolutely annihilated backup safety Quintin Mikell with an ear-splitting collision that seemed to echo through the entire Lehigh Valley. The "de-cleater," in which Smith simply mowed down Mikell, certainly brought the throaty Eagles fans to their feet. It was also indicative, said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, of the manner in which Smith performed in the offseason.
Peter King wrote
I think I will be extremely surprised if tight end LJ Smith isn't in the Pro Bowl this year. Smith is a man. If I were a safety and he was coming down the middle, I would think Mark Bavaro was heading my way.
Reggie Brown is going to have a microscope on him this year. We already knew this was true about Eagles fans. He supposed to be our savior at WR and make us at least start to forget about TO. It may be too much to ask of the kid, but it seems like he's got the right attitude. He's accepted that he's the #1 guy

The Eagles website quoted Reggie and Reid
"It's always exciting when you're the No. 1 guy for the first time," Brown said. "But I'm trying to really not worry about it ...make plays and do what I do."

"He'll work as hard or harder than anybody on this team at what he does," head coach Andy Reid said. "He's hard to tire out, man. He'll keep going. When (Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach) Jon Gruden had him in the Senior Bowl, that was the thing he told me, 'You can't wear this guy out. He just keeps rolling.'

"He just pushes, pushes and pushes every play. So, with that, I don't think he's too worried about the other things. He's concentrating on his job and doing it the right way. He tries to improve every practice and he seems to do that"

Len Paquarelli dedicated an entire article to Reggie and quoted him as being ready to step up as the #1
"They've put [the No. 1 label] on me and I'm happy to have it," said Brown, who at times wasn't even the lead receiver on his college team. "They don't seem to have a problem with it, so why should I? If they felt like someone else [here] was the top guy, then it would be him. If they felt like there was someone better that they could go get, they'd probably go and get him, because that's the nature of his business. But I feel like it's my place on this team … and I'm definitely ready for it."
Pat Kirwan loves Reggie
The Eagles have to figure out who their wide receivers will be before the summer is over, and after a few practices, here's my take on the situation. Reggie Brown deserves the hype he's been getting as an emerging star. After watching him run precision routes and catch balls with ease, I would say he's headed for a 75-reception, 1,000-yard season. As Reid said about Brown, "He's smooth, runs the short crossing routes we like to feature, and he handles himself like a real pro." Sheppard seconds that evaluation, and Dawkins added that his precision route running makes him difficult to cover off his breaks.
Peter King wrote
The second-year kid looks stronger then he did a year ago, and he appears to be better as a sure-handed sideline receiver. You can see how much faith McNabb has in him with the way they communicate in and around the huddle. My guess is he'll lead all Philly receivers with about 70 catches.
Charles Robinson
When Reggie Brown turned the corner on a double reverse on Monday, quarterback Donovan McNabb swept into his wake, laughing and clapping as he watched his new No. 1 wide receiver run for a 30-yard touchdown.

McNabb wheeled toward the sideline and pointed at seemingly everyone and no one, and he barked to the crowd of fans and reporters.

"You will be seeing that!" he said.

Plus, nearly everyone has written about Jerome McDougle. The consensus is that he looks good, but mostly the national and local media are just blown away by his story. If he plays well and the Eagles win this year, he's going to be an absolute media darling and fans are going to love him. McDougle is an absolute badass... After he was shot, he tried to chase down the guys that shot him
"I knew I was shot," he said. "I wanted to get those guys. My adrenaline was going. They got me once in abdomen. I was about to get out of the car, and that's when they shot me. The flash from the gun temporarily blinded me, and after everything became clear, I was after them."

Undrafted rookie free agent Hank Baskett has seemed to draw praise from everyone and he's been running with the first team. People have talked about his size and strength... although unfortunately I always remember hearing the same stuff about Billy McMullen, so we'll see...

The Birds kick off the NFL Preseason today against the Raiders in the Hall of Fame game. 1st thru 4th string will each play 1 quarter says Andy Reid. Check here the day after the game for my full observations.

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