Thursday, August 04, 2005

So far, give the edge to the defense

Despite the steamy conditions, the Eagles have looked remarkably in shape. And in the early going of training camp, give the defensive the edge over the offense.

Even in one-on-one drils, where the defensive backs are all alone against wide receivers, the Birds defenders have more than held their own.

Of course there have been some strong offensive plays and it appears as if two running backs are taking advantage of the absence of Brian Westbrook, now in his fourth day of his holdout.

Bruce Perry, the former George Washington High standout where he was The Inquirer's Offensive player of the year as a senior, ripped off a long run in Thursday morning's practice.

Perry missed all of last year with a shoulder injury that required surgery, but he says he is healthy and looking forward to the competition.

Another intersting player is Ryan Moats, the rookie running back and third-round draft choice from Louisiana Tech.

Moats is generously listed at 5-foot-8 and 210-pounds, but he uses his small frame to his advantage, hiding behind blockers and then darting out to turn the corner.

Like most of the rookies, he is feeling is way through this camp and getting adjusted to the speed of the game against the veterans.

The other rookie who is drawing raves is wide receiver Reggie Brown, the second-round pick from Georgia.

At 6-1 and 187-pounds, Brown has good size and speed. What he's finding is that going against an NFL defensive backfield, especially one with three all-pros such as the Eagles, is a big adjustment.

- Marc Narducci

Who's looked good so far ... and not so

Reports out of Lehigh indicate that rookie lineman Mike Patterson has been impressive in early action against the vets, as has first-year receiver Reggie Brown, who was singled out today by All-Pro safety Brian Dawkins for his work ethic. Ex-Eagle Mike Quick agreed, telling Eagles flack Dave Spadaro: "(He) is great getting off the jam. I like that kid. I can see him starting next year."

Among those expected to take on a bigger role this season, second-year lineman Shawn Andrews looks every bit as massive, and impressive, as he did as a rookie last year before being felled by a broken leg in the first preseason game and missing the entire 2004 campaign. The Eagles top pick in the 2004 draft, the 6-foot-4, 340-pound Andrews almost immediately moved into the starting lineup at last year's camp.

N.D. Kalu, coming off a torn ACL in last year's preseason, has demonstrated good pass-rushing quickness off the line, according to Spadaro.

As you might expect, the biggest hits have been delivered by linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, but the Eagles are still easing into the full-contact approach to these sessions, since it's early and the sweltering heat clearly is a factor.

This is considered by many to be a make-or-break camp for third-year receiver Billy McMullen, but he showed the inconsistency that has plagued him throughout his brief pro career. The Daily News reported that he made a spectacular, one-handed grab along the sideline, only to be followed later by an interception he gift-wrapped to Rod Hood by batting the ball into the air.

Finally, Thursday still brings no word from holdout running back Brian Westbrook, extending his unexpected absence to four days and his fines to $24,000.