Thursday, July 20, 2006

Reid Bristles At Absent Bunkley

BETHLEHEM, PA -- Andy Reid rarely shows emotion, but the Eagles coach was visibly upset. The subject was first round draft choice Brodrick Bunkley and his decision to be a holdout. Bunkley is the only unsigned Eagle. He's also officially in Reid's doghouse.
"You miss practice and it's tough to get in the flow," Reid warned.
It's obvious Reid won't have much sentiment if Bunkley misses a lot of time. On a defense that recorded just 29 sacks, Bunkley is being looked as a potential disruptive force inside. Then again, he can't rush the quarterback if he doesn't rush into camp.
Players such as incumbent starter Darwin Walker and veteran Sam Rayburn, who suffered though an injury plagued season in 2005, will benefit by Bunkley's absence.
The fact that Bunkley participated in all the minicamps will help, but nothing beats the daily contact of training camp.
For now it's early, but a rookie trying to learn coordinator Jim Johnson's complex defense, can't spend too long on the sidelines.
In a camp that doesn't consist of the controversy that existed during last year's T.O. fiasco, Bunkley will be watched closely - even if it's from afar.

Eagles Rookie Not In Full Bloom

BETHLEHEM, PA -- The Eagles view Jeremy Bloom as a potential game-breaking punt returner, which is why they drafted the Olympic skier in the fifth round even though he didn't play football the previous two seasons.
Bloom has game-breaking potential, but one has to wonder if he will be healthy this season. On the first day the rookies and selected free agents reported to camp, Bloom was one of three players coach Andy Reid said would be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. The others are rookie receiver Jason Avant, who had arthroscopic knee surgery on June 20th and Correll Buckhalter, who has missed the last two seasons with a knee injury and is still rounding into form.
Bloom suffered a pulled quadriceps prior to the NFL draft in April. As he was getting healthy, he injured his hamstring during the Eagles minicamp.
Then Reid announced as the rookies and selected veterans reported to training camp, that Bloom tweaked his hamstring again while working out with Donovan McNabb in Arizona.
A hamstring injury can linger and that's not good news for somebody like Bloom who depends on his wheels.
Maybe there is no cause for alarm and it says here that if Bloom is healthy, he will be a dangerous return man. Getting to that healthy point will be something that will be closely monitored as training camp begins.

Eagles Jackson Centering In On Starting Spot

Eagles center Jamaal Jackson signed a contract extension on Thursday through 2013, but that doesn't mean he will automatically move into the starting lineup.
However, fellow center Hank Fraley shouldn't feel too comfortable in his standing. The center position figures to be one of the big battles in training camp, but the long contract extension appears to give Jackson the leg up.
Fraley had been the starter for the better part of four-and-a-half seasons until suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in the eighth game of the season. Jackson, who had been on the practice squad, was elevated to the starting spot.
Apparently the Eagles liked what they saw.
Jackson's contract extension is basically based on performance. If he stats, he will be paid more, but the Eagles did give him a $1.75 million signing bonus, which even in the NFL is a decent sign of commitment.
If Jackson makes it through the entire contract, he would earn roughly $20 million, but looking eight years down the line, especially for a 26-year-old center, is probably not practical.
Injuries could occur as Jackson knows. He missed the entire 2004 season with a torn triceps.
The Eagles like the fact that the 6-foot-4, 330-pound Jackson is a more physical player than the 6-2, 300-pound Fraley.
Yet Fraley has gotten by in the NFL on his toughness and intelligence and the money the Eagles gave Jackson isn't big enough to automatically make him the starter.
Look for both players to come out with a lot of fire this preseason. Give Jackson the edge, but nobody should be ready to concede anything just yet.