Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Trotter Providing Strong Leadership

BETHLEHEM, PA -- Eagles middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter says he doesn't like training camp, which doesn't make him different from about 1,000 other NFL players. If Trotter hadn't mentioned his dislike for training camp, it would be difficult to tell by his demeanor and more importantly, his play on the field.
On the first day of live contact at Lehigh, Trotter was buzzing all around the field, simulating a hungry rookie instead of a four-time Pro Bowl player. When a player who made the Pro Bowl last year is working so hard, what choice to his teammates have?
Trotter even had some fun in the afternoon session after intercepting a pass, he was looking for paydirt. After a few steps Trotter lateraled the ball to Sheldon Brown and the defense was a having a good old time.
Of course the offense may not have appreciated it, but at least everybody had to laud Trotter for his effort and enthusiasm.
Training camp is longer this year and some veterans might think of pacing themselves, but there can be no slackers when one of the best defensive players in the league has decided that he wasn't taking any plays off.
That is leadership, a component that was sorely missing last year. Trotter is getting everybody's attention early and the Eagles can only hope that his teammates follow his lead.

Eagles Looking To Be On the Run

BETHLEHEM, PA -- The Eagles have vowed to run the ball more this year. Haven't we heard that before?
The Birds only ran the ball 35.6 percent of the time last season. That wouldn't have been so bad, but the Eagles averaged just 19.4 points per game.
The person who certainly wouldn't mind a bigger emphasis on running the ball is running back Brian Westbrook, who only averaged 13 carries per game.
Westbrook has maintained that he is not the injury-prone back that he has been portrayed and could easily handle 20 carries per contest.
"I think we have better depth at running back and that should really help us," Westbrook said.
Of course if Correll Buckhalter can continue his comeback after missing the past two seasons with a torn right patellar tendon in his right knee, the Eagles would have much better depth.
Remember, last year the Birds had to rely on players such as Lamar Gordon to carry the freight. Gordon and his 3.4 yards per carry average didn't cut it.
With Westbrook, a healthy Buckhalter, and two improving young backs in Ryan Moates and Bruce Perry, the Eagles will be much more equipped to run the ball.
After last season's 6-10 debacle, maybe it hit Reid that the Eagles have to run the ball more. They will never be like the Green Bay Packers under Vince Lombardi, but it shouldn't be too much to ask for them to at least get over the 40 percent mark in running the ball.
Nothing demoralizes an opponent more than running it down their collective throats. The Eagles would be using their heads by employing a better balance between pass and run.

Eagles Defense Shined In First Day of Hitting

BETHLEHEM, PA -- It was only the first day of live contact at Lehigh, but the Eagles defense was well ahead of the offense. And for a team that allowed a generous 24.2 points per game last year, that was a positive sign.
Newcomer Darren Howard was a disruptive force on the defensive line. Howard's presence seemed to energize booked defensive end Jevon Kearse, who also made a few big plays. Getting Kearse back to his old Pro Bowl level should be a major priority for the Eagles. Kearse has recorded 7.5 sacks in each of his first two years with the Birds and that just isn't enough. He has to be more of an impact player.
"I think we are going to have some fun this year," Kearse said.
If the defense shows the intensity, and nose for the ball as it did in the opening workout, maybe the Eagles will again be feared by opposing offenses.
Last year it was just too easy to move the ball on the Eagles. The lack of pass rush put the secondary on an island and opposing receivers caught passes at will.
So much is said about replacing T.O., but if the Eagles defense can revert to form, it would put much less pressure on the offense. And starting from the first day of live contact, the defense appears intent on regaining its former dominant status.