Today marked my first day on the sidelines at Eagles training camp - and my first-ever visit to Lehigh University. Being there as a fan is exciting enough, but to be right in the middle of the action is truly an indescribable experience. That being said, I'll do my best to bring my thoughts and observations to you. Most of what I saw this morning was through a camera lens, but I managed to get a few things down on paper. Here's what I saw:
- I pulled up to the Eagles media center at 7:45, walking past Dave Sparado on the way in (hard to miss that shiny head of his). Everyone on the staff seems to know who Bleeding Green Nation is. Great feeling.
- Jimmy and I pull up to the field, parting from the hoards of fans and making our way onto the practice fields. We are so close to the players, we can reach out and touch them. It makes it a bit difficult to get a good shot of the play sometimes with all the defenders crowding around the sidelines, but Eagles photographer Chris McPherson seems to be getting a good view. I'll shadow him for now.
- I have a great conversation with "Eagle Joe" as the players are warming up. The biggest takeaway? He says that the starting center for the team is most likely not currently on the roster. We agree that Kevin Mawae or a trade (perhaps with Kansas City) seem to be the biggest opportunities at this point. For more on who "Eagle Joe" is, check out Philly.com's writeup of him.
- Practice has hardly even begun and already Nick Cole is shuffling off the field. Not good. I would later find out that he tweaked his knee. Nothing serious, but with the offensive line the way it's been looking, every snap missed is a missed opportunity to get your rhythm down.
- Mike McGlynn replaces Cole at center. With A.Q. Shipley still not practicing fully, the center position is now down to McGlynn and Dallas Reynolds. Eagle Joe's prediction is starting to look pretty wise.
- I overhear that newly-acquired HB J.J. Arrington will be out for the day with a foot injury. Anyone want to guess at his chances of making the roster? (Hint: slim at best)
- Juqua Parker nearly bowls me over as he takes a play out of bounds and I jump into Chris McPherson. Luckily, they're both good sports about it.
- Kurt Coleman explodes into the backfield to bat down a Micheal Vick pass. A fan on the sideline mumbles "And he wants to be a starting quarterback..."
Riley Cooper is seeing a lot of action with the first team with Jeremy Maclin still recovering from his bone bruise. His size will definitely be an advantage in the redzone. He's towering over the cornerbacks.
- The crowd here is as enthusiastic as you'd expect Philly fans to be. Every few minutes, there is an E-A-G-L-E-S chant. (And of course a scattered boo or two when Micheal Vick takes the field)
- Tiny little Chad Hall makes a juggling TD catch in the endzone during 7-on-7's. His argument for the Na Brown award is still strong.
- Later during that same drill, Quintin Mikell makes a great read and picks off Kolb for what could have been a pick-six during a live game. This wasn't the only time our young QB was picked off this morning.
- Kelley Washington makes a great diving grab off of a Vick pass. He's been having a solid morning so far. The choice of receivers to keep on the final roster is definitely going to be a tough decision.
- Jeff Owens and Trevor Laws are busting through the middle of the line on almost every play. Laws even knocks Vick down a few times. With Antonio Dixon still recovering from a concussion both of these young defensive tackles might just beat him out for roster spots.
- Special teams drills are now underway. Punter Ken Parrish gets bowled over by Simoni Lawrence on a punt blocking drill. As Parrish lies in the grass, Leonard Weaver runs over and yells "That's why you wear pads, son!"
- Practice is over and the players start filing back into the locker room. I join a cluster of media gurus in the tent for Andy Reid's press conference.
- On the way to the tent, I'm intercepted by a member of the Eagles PR team who wants to interview me about BGN. Hopefully, they'll make me sound better than I thought I sounded. I'm not used to being the interviewee (as Jimmy can tell you).
- Two players that Reid is raving about today are Trevor Laws and Dimitri Patterson - who had a great endzone pick off of Kolb late in practice. It's hard to imagine Patterson coming back for a second year with Macho Harris and Trevard Lindley all but locks to make the roster, but you never know...
- And as the last of the players trickle back into the locker room, Jimmy and I head out for a well-deserved lunch. On the way off the field, I am nearly run over by Moise Fokou, who is taking a cart ride in. I'm definitely not having any luck with defensive ends today.
There will be more to come after the afternoon practice, and I will try to get a slideshow of pictures posted tonight. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter @BobQuaintance for live updates from the sidelines!