Thursday, June 07, 2007

Eagles' Mini Camp Report

The Eagles finished day 3 of mini camp today at the NovaCare Complex as the veterans continue to work with rookies before next month's training camp in Lehigh.

With L.J. Smith and Matt Schobel already inactive for camp, the Eagles are thin at tight end. Today, fifth-round draft pick Brent Celek limped off the practice field in pain after a 7-on-7 drill. He called over a trainer as he walked toward the locker room, saying "It's my hip," and pointed to his right side. The injury did not appear serious, but the Eagles were left with only rookie Lee Vickers at TE for the remainder of practice today.

Today, wide receivers Jason Avant and Kevin Curtis both appeared ready to step into starting roles. Avant made two spectacular catches in tight coverage, while Curtis showed speed and talent throughout the drills.

Cornerback Will James almost came up with an interception in traffic. Key word: almost. Secondary coach Trent Walters called James over to the sideline and told him, "You were just one step too slow." James, who is the lone veteran who voluntarily attended rookie camps for extra practice, acknowledged his mistake and dropped down for 15 push-ups. Dedrick Roper didn't miss his opportunity. Roper picked off a pass in heavy inside traffic during the 7-on-7 drill, drawing whoops and cheers from his teammates and coaches alike.

New linebacker Takeo Spikes continued to spend time learning the Eagles' defense. Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson was complimentary after the practice, calling the 10-year veteran "a pro's pro."

Aside from the linebacker drills, Spikes has been spending a lot of time learning and working with fellow linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, also a 10-year veteran and past pro bowler.

After spending his entire career with bad teams in Cincinnati and Buffalo, Spikes is impressed with the attitude of the Eagles, top to bottom.

"They expect to win," Spikes said. "It all starts at the top with Andy Reid and it goes all the way down to the very last man."

McNabb looks loose, healthy at mini-camp

Donovan McNabb isn't participating in drills during the current mini-camp, where veterans reported Tuesday and the first full-squad workouts of the 2007 season are taking place through June 14 at the NovaCare Complex, but he has been in uniform and on the field during the first three days of camp.

McNabb shows no signs of a limp or any other impairmant as he jogs around the field and jokes around with teammates. He looks physically fit and his spirits seem high. McNabb, who missed the second half of last season after knee surgery, has said that his recovery is ahead of schedule.

Assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg agreed with that assessment yesterday, saying that if he hadn't known McNabb had knee surgery, he wouldn't have been able to tell by seeing him around the practice facility.

Not content to stand on the sidelines while others went through passing drills, on Thursday McNabb was shagging throws from assistants on the field and lobbing them back to quarteracks A.J. Feeley, Kelly Holcomb and rookie Kevin Kolb as the trio moved through the drills.

Earlier, McNabb played the role of an over-aggressive defensive back on another drill by holding, grabbing and generally mugging an assistant coach playing inside receiver as the quarterbacks threw deep balls to receivers going down the sidelines.

"Get him off me, get him off me," McNabb shouted with a laugh, perhaps recalling his his college basketball days at Syracuse. "He's holding me, man!"

On Wednesday, McNabb was one of the last players out of the showers as the team prepared for its playground rebuilding project in North Philadelphia after a shortened practice session. Sitting at his locker in a towel, McNabb complained about the schedule for the event.

"I can't believe they told me the bus is leaving in 10 minutes," he griped as he prepared to get dressed.

"Don't worry," a reporter quipped as he was leaving the locker room. "The bus isn't leaving without you."