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Eagles' rookies, free agents set up camp at Lehigh
Rookie defensive end Jamaal Green harbors no delusions about what awaits him and the other newcomers in the Philadelphia Eagles' training camp at Lehigh University.
''It's all about business,'' Green said. ''The fun is over with.''
Green, approximately 25 other true rookies, several free agents with limited experience and two players coming back from injuries, Correll Buckhalter and Derrick Burgess, will take to the practice fields today and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 3:05 p.m.
After single-session workouts Monday and Tuesday, the entire Eagles' preseason roster is scheduled to be on the field Wednesday at 8:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. for the start of 11 consecutive days of two-a-day workouts.
The Eagles will be at Lehigh until Aug. 15, although their stay will be interrupted Aug. 10-12 when they travel to New Orleans for their preseason exhibition opener. Most practice sessions are open to the public, but fans are encouraged to call the Eagles' training camp information line (610-758-6868) daily for updates of practice schedules and access.
The only absentee so far is rookie first-round draft pick Jerome McDougle, the defensive end who is expected to succeed Hugh Douglas as the Eagles' top pass rusher. Eagles coach Andy Reid said contract negotiations were scheduled to continue Friday night between team president Joe Banner and McDougle's agent, Drew Rosenhaus.
''I've said this before: Every day is important for a rookie,'' Reid said. ''If you're expected to contribute, you need to be here. But we'll move on.''
Otherwise, it is business as usual as the Eagles begin their fifth training camp under Reid and eighth at Lehigh.
''The last two weeks , you're excited about getting started,'' Reid said. ''But, I say that every year. You look forward to it; this is what we do.''
Eagles third-string quarterback A.J. Feeley who last season led the club to a 4-1 record while filling in for injured No. 1 QB Donovan McNabb and No. 2 Koy Detmer was a little less enthusiastic.
''I don't know if 'look forward' is the term,'' Feeley said. ''You want to get to football, but training camp is something you dread. You look forward to being here, but sometimes it's not something you want to be part of.''
Billy McMullen, the rookie third-round draft pick out of Virginia, already has a pretty good idea of when he'll begin to get the training camp blahs.
''I'm sure after four days of work when my legs are tired and after the coaches have yelled at me,'' McMullen said.
With two training camps behind him, Feeley arrived prepared. He had a TV, a DVD player and a laptop computer among the possessions he moved into a dormitory room early Friday evening.
''You have to stay in touch with reality outside of football,'' Feeley said.
McMullen also brought some comforts of home to Lehigh.
''I brought a PlayStation, but I'll be in my play book more than on the PlayStation, that's for sure,'' McMullen said.
McMullen came to that realization even before the 7 p.m. meeting in which Reid was to welcome the early arrivals to training camp.
''Learning, studying and the intensity of the practice,'' Reid said of what he would emphasize in the meeting. ''The mental and physical load will be 10-fold over anything it was for the minicamps.''
Thomas on schedule: Defensive tackle Hollis Thomas, who missed all of last season because he fractured his foot for the second time in eight months, will report Monday with the rest of the veterans.
''Hollis is in very good shape right now,'' Reid said. ''That was a concern, because obviously with a bigger guy with a foot problem there's a tendency to put on weight. But he's in good shape.''
Thomas is listed at 6-0, 306 pounds.