Postcard from camp: Eagles
Coach Andy Reid expects Jason Peters to play to his potential at tackle
Donovan McNabb will have inexperienced skill position players to deal with
Rookies LeSean McCoy and Cornelius Ingram have been impressive thus far
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Peter King had to say about the Eagles' camp in Bethlehem, Pa. For an archive of all the camp postcards, click here.
Setting The Scene
The Eagles are ensconced (forever, seemingly) at Lehigh University, an hour north of Philadelphia in Bethlehem, Pa. The players and staff live in dorms on the very hilly campus, and then take their own cars (vets) or vans (rookies) on the 2.5-race to the plush practice fields on the edge of campus.
1. Andy Reid is playing mind games with Jason Peters. I approve. Peters was a dog last year in Buffalo; the staff there didn't think he tried hard and wasn't dedicated to football, mostly because he knew the Bills would never pay him what he thought he deserved. He allowed 11.5 sacks last year, a ridiculous number for a man with the talent to be the best left tackle in football. And so Reid put the onus on him the day Philadelphia acquired Peters for draft choices in April, calling him the best left tackle in football. I think the reason he did it is simple: Now that Peters finally has the contract he wants, and now that he's finally on a good line playing big games every week, there's no excuses for him to NOT be one of the best tackles in football. And if he isn't -- if he lets Justin Tuck or DeMarcus Ware turnstile him early in the season -- the fans in Philadelphia will eat him for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Early, it seems to be working. Peters usually spends most of his offseason at his home in Houston. This year, he was in the Eagles' offseason program in Philadelphia.
2. Joe Mays? Who on God's green earth is Joe Mays, and why is he starting for a legit Super Bowl contender? Mays was the Eagles' sixth-round pick last year, from North Dakota State, and he played a grand total of three plays. He's a fireplug of a guy, around 5-11 and 245 pounds. And he's taken over the MLB job for the time being. Unless he is a Xerox copy of Zach Thomas, this team is in trouble without Stewart Bradley in the middle on defense. When Bradley, the Eagles' prize 25-year-old middle 'backer, went down with a torn ACL in practice last Sunday, the signal-caller for a rookie defensive coordinator, Sean McDermott, went down too. A couple of weeks ago, I asked McDermott about the leaders on the defense with Brian Dawkins gone, and he mentioned Bradley and safety Quentin Mikell. Now one of them's gone.
3. Donovan McNabb sure is happy for someone who has question marks all over his offense. He comes out of the locker room laughing, he smiles 10 times per practice, and he grins like a kid on Christmas when he's stretching afterward. Maybe it's just him, or maybe it's just the money the Eagles gave him to make his contract competitive with the other quarterbacks in the league. In the morning practice I saw, he rolled right on one play and, while running, fired a perfect strike to DeSean Jackson 25 yards downfield. It's not about what McNabb does in the summer, though, and he knows that. He's going to have to do it with an incredibly young bunch of skill players, with wideout Jeremy Maclin, backup back LeSean McCoy and tight end Cornelius Ingram rookies, Jackson a second-year man and Brent Celek in his third year.
New Face, New Place
Offensive lineman Stacy Andrews. Signed in free-agency from Cincinnati, Stacy takes his place alongside brother Shawn on the starting line. But we're all confused about the move. Stacy was a 15-game starter at tackle for the Bengals last year. He is moving to guard. Shawn, for the first five years of his career, has been a guard for the Eagles. He is moving to tackle. The Eagles say it's because Shawn could be a dominant tackle, and wants to make the move. I say: Why fix something that isn't broken?
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