Friday, May 12, 2006

Cole Worried About Producing, Not Starting

One person who might have been annoyed at the Eagles acquisition of defensive end Darren Howard is Trent Cole. That's because the addition of Howard as a free agent from the New Orleans has pushed Cole down the depth chart.
You'll remember that Cole came in as a relatively unheralded rookie fifth round pick out of Cincinnati last year and ended up starting seven games. He recorded all five of his sacks during a three-game stretch in November, but wore down toward the end of the season.
Now Howard will start at defensive end opposite Jevon Kearse. Under coordinator Jim Johnson's rotation, Cole should see his share of reps, along with Jerome McDougle, who the Eagles say has recovered after missing last year following a gunshot wound.
"Darren Howard is a nice guy and has good character and I am willing to sit and learn from him," Cole said. "He has been in the league 6-7 years and I will take notes from him and see what I can do to improve my game."
Howard can also play tackle, so Cole might find more snaps. The 6-foot-3 Cole has gained 15 pounds and now weighs 270, still small by NFL standards. Cole prides himself on his quickness and he still has the mindset of a starter, even though that isn't expected to be his role this year.
"With a year under my belt, I'm looking to improve," Cole said. "I can't wait to get started."

Bloom Performs At The Podium

For a fifth-round pick, Eagles rookie Jeremy Bloom has sure gotten his share of attention. Then again there aren't too many two-time Olympic skiers in the NFL. Actually there is nobody else with those credentials.
So Bloom has faced a question or two from the media during his time and at the first day of mini-camp, where players just reported for meetings at the Nova Care Complex, Bloom was by far the star at the podium.
When somebody asked him if he could become as good at football as skiing, the 24-year-old Bloom didn't flinch.
"To be as good in football as I was in skiing is monumental, like climbing Mt. Everest," Bloom said.
Bloom's mindset has been to come in and perform in anonymity, like most fifth round picks.
Fat chance.
"I've met a lot of the veterans and I've already heard a lot of ski jokes," Bloom said.
When asked if he would like to give up having the attention he earned from skiing, Bloom responded, "I would love that if that's the case."
This wasn't a case of false modesty. Bloom realizes that the only good attention is for something that will come on the field.
And when asked if it would be a problem to give up skiing if the Eagles request that, he was quick on his feet.
"I would have no problem with that," he said. "I'm here to play football, not go skiing and go to the Poconos."
If Bloom holds his own as a return man as he did at the microphone, then he could become the big-play performer that we saw at the University of Colorado.

Some Sidelined, Some Returning At Mini-Camp

Not all the Eagles will be available for duty when the team takes the field on Saturday for mini-camp. General manager Tom Heckert says that cornerback Lito Sheppard, center Hank Fraley and wide receiver Todd Pinkston are three key players who aren't expected to do much.
Sheppard is recovering from an ankle injury that cost him the final six games. Pinkston missed the entire season with an Achilles injury suffered in training camp.
Fraley missed the final eight games with a shoulder injury. All are expected to be ready for training camp in July.
One key person everybody will watch is safety and return man J.R. Reed, who missed all of last season with nerve damage following an off-field accident.
With the use of a brace, Reed has made a comeback after initial fears were that his football career would be over.
"I think it's very realistic that he could play this year," Heckert said. "You won't be able to tell there is anything wrong with him when he has the brace on. If you see him without a brace, then you would think he can't play."
Reed was a solid return man, although there will be plenty of competition with the arrival of fifth round pick Jeremy Bloom and the return of a more experienced and confident Bruce Perry.
One of the interesting notes of the mini-camp is the progress Reed. For those who think the mini-camp is three days of glorified exercise, Reed is an example that these workouts in May have a lot to do whether somebody sticks with the team in September.

ALL EYES ON MCNABB

The Eagles reported for a team meeting on Friday to begin their mini-camp that will last through Monday and most of the interest will center on Donovan McNabb.
General manager Tom Heckert said that McNabb, who missed the last seven games with a sports hernia is ready to go.
With all the talk about regaining the locker room, McNabb must also regain his form after throwing nine interceptions last year, one more than he had the previous season. And Saturday will be the first time that McNabb speaks to the media, which should be even more interesting than his activity on the field.
During the Super Bowl, McNabb made some out of character comments about Terrell Owens and will likely be grilled by an expected large media gathering on Saturday.
It's only May and only a mini-camp, but McNabb has to start winning back teammates and followers. That is why his first time on the field and at the podium later Saturday afternoon will go a long way in shaping the direction of a team that is coming off a 6-10 record in arguably the deepest division in the NFL.