Lito Sheppard watched 2002 draft classmates Michael Lewis and Sheldon Brown make significant contributions to the Eagles' secondary last season.
It was frustrating, because Sheppard Philadelphia's first-round (26th overall) pick might have had the same opportunities had he not missed the first three regular-season games because of a quadriceps injury.
''When I did come back, I wasn't at full strength,'' Sheppard said. ''It held me back. I don't think the coaches realized it, but I couldn't do what I wanted to do.''
A healthy Sheppard was a speedy cornerback at the University of Florida and the first cornerback the Eagles selected in the first round since Roynell Young in 1980.
And healthy again, Sheppard is getting positive reviews in the Eagles' training camp at Lehigh University.
''You see Lito out here everyday, just making big hits,'' Eagles coach Andy Reid said. ''He's doing a job and he's making plays. He's not only making plays tackling, but he's making plays on the ball. Right now, he's playing good football.''
In talks with the 5-10, 194-pound Sheppard in the offseason, the coaching staff stressed the need for him to be more physical.
''I just like his aggressive nature I didn't see it much last year,'' defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said. ''Maybe he knows the system better, but I think he's just being a more physical player this year.
''We talked about being aggressive and challenging people. He was a young kid last year, so I think he knows how we like to attack and press. I think he's kind of picked it up.''
Lewis is expected to become the first of the three young defensive backs to become a full-time starter. He already is No. 1 on the depth chart at strong safety after the Eagles parted with veteran Blaine Bishop last winter.
But Sheppard and Brown are expected to eventually succeed Pro Bowl corners Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor. The Eagles have enough confidence in the youngsters that they traded extra corner Al Harris to Green Bay last winter.
Injuries: Free safety Brian Dawkins missed Tuesday's workouts because of a groin muscle strain that spokesman Derek Boyko characterized as ''minor.'' Tight end Chad Lewis (calf), center/guard Scott Peters (ankle) and defensive tackle Jeremy Slechta (concussion) resumed practicing Tuesday.
In case you missed it: Single-game tickets for Eagles home games will go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday. The $55 tickets will be available only at TicketMaster outlets or TicketMaster phone (215-336-2000 or 215-336-0616).
Orders will be limited to two tickets per customer for the Tampa Bay game and four per customer for Washington, New York Giants, Dallas and San Francisco.
The limit will be eight tickets for the remaining regular-season games against New England, New York Jets and New Orleans.
Today in camp: Workouts are scheduled for 8:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. The latter session will be for special teams. The defensive backs are scheduled to sign autographs in the tent.
Fans are encouraged to call the Eagles information line (610-758-6868) daily to confirm practice times and public access.
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