And so it begins. Rookies are reporting today. Select veterans will be joining them. Football practice starts on Monday.
We won’t see the full team until next weekend, but it is great to see some actual hitting and real football. Guys will put on full pads and there will be full contact. Actual football.
You may wonder about the value of 3 days of practice with only a limited number of players. It is good for the guys. These are rookies and veteran players who are either of limited experience, coming off an injury, or new to the team. These are the kind of players who need every rep they can get.
The early practices also allow the players to get their feet under them. Training Camp moves quickly and the practices don’t involve lots of time for young players to get in a comfort zone. They are expected to know what’s going on and to keep up with the veterans. The first 3 days move slower and the coaches can be more hands on.
Don’t underestimate the importance of these days. Back in 2006 Omar Gaither impressed Jim Johnson in the first practices and that helped pave the way for Omar starting some games later that season. Omar carried himself like a veteran and that impressed the heck out of JJ and Andy Reid. He made a terrific first impression.
The other important aspect of all this is that Andy Reid is a system coach. Go back to the blue notebook from his job interview. He had a plan for everything. Over time Andy figured out how he wanted things done. Last year Big Red could not rely on his system and way of doing things. Training Camp was very different. We saw the team get off to a nightmare start (1-4) and the key rookies struggled (Danny Watkins, Jaiquawn Jarrett, and Casey Matthews).
This year Andy had his mini-camps. He now has a full Training Camp. He can do things the way he wants and rely on the systems he’s developed over his years as the Eagles coach. Hopefully that will result in a better start and better play from the early rookies.
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The Eagles made a trade today. They shipped CB D.J. Johnson to the Colts for DT Ollie Ogbu. You may remember that name from March and April of 2011. I thought Ogbu should have been an Eagles target late in the draft or as a UDFA. He is 6-1, 295 and has the skill set to be effective in the Jim Washburn system. Ogbu was very good at Penn State, finishing his career with 29 TFLs.
Here’s something I wrote about him as a UDFA target: “Lacks ideal size, but uses that to his advantage by playing with great leverage. Might not be starting material, but could be good rotational player. Willing to do the dirty work. Does have enough quickness to be disruptive.”
This move may not seem like a big deal since Ogbu didn’t play last year for the Colts, but you wonder what it means. The Eagles were already deep at DT. Could this deal mean there are some concerns with Mike Patterson? Remember that Patt had brain surgery in January. He’s not been cleared to play yet.
Tim McManus reported on Twitter that he talked to Patt last week and that Patt assumed he’d be fine to practice if he passed the team’s physical. Patt is taking the physical on Sunday afternoon so we’ll see how that goes.
At the very least, the Ogbu deal shows that the Eagles want to have good depth on the DL in case something does go wrong, whether that’s with Patt or someone else. I like the trade. Ogbu is a good fit for the scheme and could be an interesting practice squad candidate if the roster is full.
Andy Reid speaks today at 5pm. We should get some kind of update at that point.