Posted: Monday July 31, 2006 10:29AM; Updated: Monday July 31, 2006 2:10PM
Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter takes a drink at Eagles practice. The Pro Bowl linebacker goes 100 percent, even on the hottest days.
Peter King will answer your questions each week in Monday Morning Quarterback: Tuesday Edition.
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- As I peered through the big picture window in the weight room at Lehigh University on Wednesday at around 8:30 a.m., on the leg-curl machine, in full uniform and pads, was the Eagles' defensive leader, Jeremiah Trotter. He wasn't lifting to warm up; the man was going at it hammer and tongs.
Practice was due to start at 8:45, so I decided to wait and ask him what the heck he was doing, lifting like a madman before a 2½-hour, very physical practice. So at about 8:40, he came into the stifling eastern Pennsylvania sun and haze, sweating bullets already, and I asked him.
"Peter!'' he said. "Gotta wake 'em up! Gotta wake the muscles up!''
Wednesday was one of those hot mornings during which players just bake on the practice field. They cover themselves with SPF-45 Bullfrog and pray they don't miss a spot. They look for any sliver of shade, like next to the big telephone pole in the middle of the practice field. And all I could think was: I simply cannot imagine running around with 20 pounds of pads and a helmet on for more than two hours, then returning at 2:30 for another -- albeit lighter -- practice.
You might think of coach Andy Reid as one of those laissez-faire West Coast guys, but as Brian Dawkins told me, "His first year here, the first three days of camp, we had two of those long, full-pad practices each day. You take that, you can take anything.''
I tell you that to put Trotter's morning workout into perspective. I'd already seen him play like a Tasmanian devil on Monday and Tuesday, flying around like a rookie free agent trying to make the team. And here on Wednesday, for the entire practice, he did every drill the same way. Fast. Very fast. And this is a man five months shy of 30.
In a scrimmage drill against the offense, Trotter ran into the flat as Donovan McNabb rolled right, pressured slightly. McNabb looked downfield and, seeing no one open, dumped a pass to 6-foot-5, 257-pound tight end Matt Schobel in the flat. Schobel caught the ball, turned upfield and boom! Decleated by Trotter. The 1,000 or so folks in the bleachers next to the field sounded like 50,000. They just went nuts. Trotter, in turn, flexed for them and jumped up and down like he'd just won the Super Bowl.
"I know this is hard to believe,'' he told me later, sweat pouring off his face, "but I feel like I'm 20. Physically, I've never felt better in my life. It sounds crazy, but my best days are ahead of me.''
The optimism of July. It's everywhere. I'll have my eye on Trotter. With the very strong rotation the Eagles have at defensive tackle keeping the traffic off him, he might be a monster this year.