Eagles camp postcard (cont.)
Running back LeSean McCoy (second round), Pitt. This is a gem, folks. A prize. McCoy has dazzled early picking up pass-rushers and catching the ball out of the backfield, and he's been everything Philadelphia thought he could be in the running game. I remember talking to Reid before the draft, and when we talked about the top backs on everyone's board -- Knowshon Moreno, Donald Brown, Beanie Wells -- Reid made sure to tell me not to forget McCoy. And now, with the two surgeries Brian Westbrook had in the offseason (I saw him run about three-quarter speed in camp and tell trainer Rick Burkholder to have me join in the running -- the only possible reason for that being that he knew he could beat me), McCoy becomes a very important cog in the offense. And he just turned 21. "People had a lot of knocks on me before the draft," he told me. "I can't block. I can't run between the tackles. But I think I can do all that and more." The Eagles have loved his pass-catching ability and ability to pick up blitzers. If that continues, then the loss of Westbrook, if it happens during the season, will be easier to take.
Coaches wearing long sleeves and floppy hats, for maximum sun protection. After the death of defensive coordinator Jim Johnson due to melanoma, a few of the coaches have taken the sun a lot more seriously. McDermott, very fair-skinned, already was wearing a weird hat and long white sleeves. It's eerie to not see Johnson in camp, obviously; the team hasn't had any time to grieve. But if his death means coaches and players around the league will Bullfrog-up, something good will come from a tragedy.
On The Menu
The Eagles don't allow media to eat at their training table. A trip to Eagle camp is not a trip to Eagle camp without lunch at Deja' Brew in downtown Bethlehem. Jeff, the owner, is partial to me (and to all writers, it seems, because they all frequent his place just down the hill from Eagle dorms and offices). Today I had the Triple Threat, a vast and delicious sandwich that no one but Michael Phelps could possibly finish. Thinly sliced mountains of ham, turkey and roast beef with a choice of cheese (I chose American), tomato and ranch dressing, on a French-break long roll. Water. I got three bites into the second half and cried uncle. Happily.
Last but never, ever least: three small peanut-butter balls, with peanut butter and chocolate and crushed peanuts all rolled into a delightful two-bite concoction.
It's never been better, Jeff.
1. The Eagles don't play a division game until week seven (Oct. 26), and I don't think I like that. And Philly doesn't have a game against its two big division nemeses, the Giants and Cowboys, until Nov. 1. This could go both ways, obviously, but if the Eagles get a spate of injuries early -- say, on the offensive line -- and have to face the powerful rushes of the Giants and Cowboys a couple of men down up front, that's a major disadvantage.
2. Cornelius Ingram with the 153rd pick in the draft is going to make Tom Heckert and his staff, not to mention Eagle fans, very happy. Ingram didn't play last season at Florida because of a knee injury, and so his draft stock plummeted. At 6-4 and a very athletic 245 pounds, Ingram is tearing up camp with precocious route-running and quickness you rarely see from a tight end. Ingram looks like he'll be able to get open better than L.J. Smith ever could.
3. Philly could rotate three corners as starters -- Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown and Ellis Hobbs. Hobbs is playing with the first unit, and when the season dawns, he may get nearly the same snaps as one of the starters. I said "may."
4. By the end of this year, safety Quentin Mikell will be considered on the plane just below Ed Reed/Troy Polamalu with the very good safeties in football. I already think he's there, with Ryan Clark, LaRon Landry and Adrian Wilson, and others. Mikell is rangy, spirited, a brutal hitter and one of the rising-star cogs of this team. "I credit Jim Johnson with believing me," he says of the late defensive boss. "Without him, I'm not here right now." Mikell was a free-agent from Boise State who kept hitting people on special teams until he finally got his chance to play last year.
5. This is a terrific team, on paper. That and $3.45 will get you a grande latte. What will put this team over the top is four elements: A defense that responds to McDermott and gets over the loss of their mentor and defensive guru, an offensive line that comes together and stays relatively healthy, a quarterback who finally plays great when the money's on the line, and a bunch of young skill players who play older than they are. That's a lot to ask, which is why I like the Giants a little more entering the season.
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