With the likes of Hugh Douglas, Brian Mitchell, Shawn Barber and Levon Kirkland playing for other teams this season, the Eagles will be a distinctly different team. Not only will the sculpture of this year’s team have changed, but also the future of the team is to be found in the young players taking part in early camp workouts this weekend. The group currently taking part in drills at Lehigh is only a shell of this team, and these players are merely trying to prove that they belong.
The workout began with quarterbacks Donovan McNabb, Koy Detmer, A.J. Feeley and Tim Hasselbeck taking part in various warm up drills. As mundane as this routine may seem, it revealed something that is paramount to the Eagles hopes this season, and that is a healthy Donovan McNabb. He showed the ability to scramble from sideline to sideline without any pain, and made the crisp cuts that fans are accustomed to seeing. Should McNabb return to his pre-injury form, his newly bulked up 245 pound frame will prove to be an imposing force for opposing teams to defend against.
However, when the drills became more serious, McNabb showed that he has yet to fix the inaccuracies in passes to running backs coming out of the backfield. This weakness in Donovan’s game is what held the team from advancing to the Super Bowl last season, and if he does not correct it soon it may once again be detrimental to Philadelphia’s success. Short passes aren’t what makes McNabb the quarterback that he is, and when it came to firing crisp passes between coverage, he opened the eyes of fans and media watching the workouts. Many times during the workouts, McNabb showed the ability to split defenders with lighting quick passes and the young receivers proved they could hold on to his darts.
Third round draft pick Billy McMullen looked as good as a rookie could be in his first NFL practice. He showed he could make quick crisp cuts in the open field, something key for a slot receiver, and displayed the soft hands that attracted Andy Reid to the youngster from Virginia. It was very apparent that McMullen has some work to do before the vets come into camp. He dropped some passes along the sidelines, and seemed somewhat confused at times, but overall the Eagles seem to have a prototypical slot receiver on their hands.
On the defensive side of the ball, both Derrick Burgess and Jamaal Green had solid days. Burgess appeared to be healthy and commented after practice “I feel good, it’s great to be back out there on the field”. Burgess is the front-runner to replace Douglas, and showed at the very least, that he is healthy going into this season, which is a very good sign. Green, Philadelphia’s fourth round selection from Miami beat his teammate, McDougle, to practice and showed the ability to fall back into coverage with the linebackers as well as the speed to become a decent power rusher from the right side of the line.
Letters from camp-highlights from today's practice
*The play of the day came during a seven on seven drill in which Donovan McNabb dropped back and fired a bomb to Reno Mahe who brought down the lighting bolt between two defenders for a stellar reception.
*Sean Morey made several athletic receptions along the sidelines and is on his way to another solid training camp
*Fullback Corey McIntyre became the first Eagle to drop his pants at Lehigh since Mike Mamula was arrested for indecent exposure. Not to fear Eagles fans, Corey’s blunder occurred on an embarrassing play in which he dropped a seemingly easy reception and when he hit the ground his shorts fell to his ankles. The incident brought some humor to an otherwise humdrum practice.
Overall, this practice did not show everything this team has to offer; it was a fairly good barometer of what’s to come with this team. The Eagles will resume two a days with rookies and free agents tomorrow, before taking part in single practices Monday and Tuesday leading up to the first full squad workout on Wednesday. Stay tuned to EaglesInsider for updates on future training camp workouts.