It’s officially football season for me after today. OK, preseason, but still, I’m starting to get excited. My brother and I made the trip to Lehigh University for Eagles training camp, and were met with a crazy, boisterous crowd of 18,000+ fans at 8:30 a.m. (Click below to view a slideshow).
Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting anything like this:
I spent the better part of the morning session peering between giant heads and helmets, and only catching a glimpse or two of the action. Toward the end, I found a seat in the bleachers by field three and caught the tail end of the full contact scrimmage (and later a fight in the linemen drills). Kevin Curtis caught a nice deep pass from McNabb deep in the corner. McNabb looked fine in the pocket, and even scrambled out a couple of times.
Much to my chagrin, Brian Dawkins was M.I.A. today. I haven’t found out why, yet. For a more in-depth look at the morning session, check out Bleeding Green Nation. He was in attendance and has a nice report.
The afternoon session was much more relaxed, for us fans and the players. The punters walked to field three at about 2:20 and Sav Rocca spent about 20 minutes embarrassing Dirk Johnson. Rocca also shanked a couple, and that’s what this position battle is probably going to come down to. Who can be more consistent. Rocca obviously has a bigger leg, but I think Andy would rather go with a punter who can give you 43 yards consistently, than a guy who gives you 4 sixty yard punts followed by a twenty-yarder. If you haven’t heard, Rocca is a monster. He’s listed at 6’5”, 265 lbs, but he might be bigger than that.
The QB’s then took over the field. I’m not sure if this means anything, but Kevin Kolb always goes fourth (McNabb, then Feeley, then Holcomb, then Kolb) in any QB drill. Honestly, there were times where the kid looked lost out there, but that’s to be expected. During some of the drills Kolb seemed more worried about getting his steps and ball fakes down than delivering the ball. On other plays, he was obviously more comfortable with his footwork and delivered crisp, accurate passes.
The receiving corps looked good, really good. Brown and Curtis made all the catches, and looked good coming out of their breaks. One rookie stood out, for me: Dereck Faulkner, from Hampton. Faulkner is a beast at 6’3”, 228 lbs. and to the naked eye, he looked pretty quick out there. He caught the ball away from his body and had nice body control, making a few catches on the sideline in drills and dragging his feet. Obviously, these were just drills, but a receiver of that size is always worth a look.
The running backs didn’t do much more than catch passes in the afternoon. “Nasty” Nate Ilaoa looks like we weighs closer to 300 lbs. than the 245 he’s listed at, but showed soft hands catching a couple swing passes. Westbrook looked like Westbrook, and he looked healthy which is the biggest thing.
L.J. Smith even made an appearance in the no-contact portion of the workouts. He looks slimmed down, but that’s to be expected. I hope he can keep his mouth shut about his contract, and let things play out. He’s a key weapon for the offense.
On defense, Considine does indeed look bigger. (There’s a picture in the slideshow). Trotter looks smaller, and Spikes looks like a monster out there. If the scrimmage and drills were any indication, Jim Johnson is going to have him moving all over the place, and he’s going to be blitzing off the edge. Johnson may look to use Spikes as a blitzer in some situations where he would’ve used Dawkins or a corner in the past, this should help the pass defense in these situations, and another blitzing weapon means more confusion for opposing offensive lines.
All told, it was a great day, and the atmosphere was amazing. I have to say, with the price of tickets effectively excluding a great portion of fans from ever seeing the team in person, this training camp is really a blessing. There were a ton of families there, getting a chance to be up close to their favorite team for free. If you have the chance, I highly recommend going, just make sure you get there early to beat the traffic and grab a seat. Click the button below to view the slideshow for a taste of what the atmosphere was like.