Correll Buckhalter likes the view he has of this Philadelphia Eagles training camp much better than the view he had of training camp 2002.
This year, he is lining up in the Eagles' backfield and looking for seams and holes to burst through.
A year ago, he was running up and down the grassy knoll next to the road leading into Lehigh University's athletic fields.
''That's where my rehab started,'' Buckhalter said, turning his head to look at the grassy knoll about 75 yards away. ''But I don't plan on looking at that hill anytime soon.''
Buckhalter and the Eagles will be a lot more certain on Wednesday, when he takes the first real hits he will have absorbed since late January, 2002, in the Eagles' NFC Championship Game loss to the St. Louis Rams. Three months after suffering an ankle injury in that game, Buckhalter tore up his knee in the Eagles' first minicamp workout last season. Surgery and months of rehabilitation including the daily jogs up and down the grassy knoll at Lehigh followed.
The results have been positive, according to those most closely watching Buckhalter.
''I knew Buck would come in in great shape and look good,'' Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said. ''I think he has forgotten about what happened with the injury and he's just looking forward to moving on. I think there is a great opportunity for him to be here with us right now so, when the vets come in, we're all ready to go.''
Buckhalter said he took some significant steps mentally this past weekend.
''I think I'm back,'' he said. '', after the 9-on-7 , I felt I didn't follow my reads. But I went in, looked at the film and I think I came out and had the reads. I feel I am back.''
A healthy Buckhalter can be a valuable asset. He rushed 129 times for 586 yards (4.5 yards per carry) and caught 13 passes for 130 yards as a rookie fourth-round draft pick out of Nebraska in 2001. With the Eagles parting with Dorsey Levens in the offseason, Buckhalter is again likely to at least share the feature-back role with Duce Staley.
Buckhalter said he never doubted he would be in this position again.
But there were some tough times during the process.
''When it first happened, I heard it pop,'' Buckhalter said. ''I felt some terrible pain.''
His worst fears were soon confirmed: His left knee's anterior cruciate ligament was torn. He eventually underwent surgery and started running the little hill at Lehigh.
''I didn't even think that I wouldn't come back,'' he said. ''I was positive. I knew that Rick Burkholder would push me through the steps to get back here.''
The injury and rehabilitation process have had a profound impact on his life, he said.
''It changed me,'' Buckhalter said. ''I think positively about everything. I was down at first, but over the long haul it changed me, made me more positive about the things I have to do.''
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