Receivers take a step forward

But don't believe everything you see at camp

Posted: August 09, 2007

Crunch Time is a compilation of hits and a few misses from Eagles training camp.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The pass flew high and long, more of a rainmaker and less of a rope than you usually see from Donovan McNabb.

Far downfield, Kevin Curtis timed his leap perfectly, reaching around sixth-round rookie corner Rashad Barksdale and making the catch at the left sideline, right in front of the main set of stands at Lehigh. The crowd erupted in the most prolonged applause of the day.

Yesterday was a bit of a comeback day for Curtis and several other wideouts, who had trouble holding onto the ball Tuesday.

"You've got to work through those things," coach Andy Reid said, after noting that he was displeased with the widespread "dropsy" the day before. "That's being tired - it's one thing to have your body tired, it's another thing to be mentally tired. You can't put yourself in that position during training camp, you've got to fight through that. We had a couple of letdowns there yesterday."

Of course, as much emphasis as everyone puts on training camp as it's going on, drills at Lehigh and the regular season are very different things. If you were going strictly on the last week, Curtis and Jason Avant probably would be your top two wideouts, with Greg Lewis No. 3. Reggie Brown, the team's top wideout, who certainly had some drops Tuesday, would be somewhere behind them.

But unlike Curtis, Brown is not new here, and isn't trying to show the coaches what he can do. Unlike Avant, he isn't trying to show he deserves more playing time than he got last season. And unlike Lewis, Brown isn't fighting for a roster spot. Like many of the established players, as camp drags on, he is basically working on timing and trying to make it to the regular season uninjured.

There's a Hugh Douglas quote from a few years ago that speaks to this situation. Walking off the field at Lehigh, Douglas was intercepted by a young fan who asked not for an autograph, but for the veteran defensive end to "hit me." Douglas asked the youngster if he had been watching practice. The kid said he had.

"Did you see me hit anybody out there today?" Douglas asked. "What makes you think I'm going to hit you?"

* It's hard to separate fifth-round rookie tight end Brent Celek from the ball, but Sean Considine did it with a hit that was absolutely Dawkinsesque. "He's a smart kid," Reid said when asked about Considine. "He uses great anticipation in his judgment on where the ball's going. I think he's refined that a little bit from last year."

* An A.J. Feeley pass caromed off Jeremy Bloom's hands to rookie free agent safety Chris Smith.

* Fifth-round rookie safety C.J. Gaddis chased down Tony Hunt from the backside after Hunt tried to bounce outside on a goal-line-drill run.

* McNabb executed play action nicely before lofting a goal-line drill TD pass to Matt Schobel.

* It was hard to tell whether the 51-yard field goal attempt by David Akers against a gusty crosswind (or crossbreeze, which is about as much as you can hope for in August) made it inside the left upright. It wasn't hard to tell what happened to the ball after that, though. It sailed over the low fence and into the crowd of spectators. Then it promptly bounced right back onto the field, off an onlooker's noggin. That had to hurt.

The time's yours

The usual 8:15 start is planned for today's morning session. The 2:45 p.m. practice is a 10,10,10, with each phase getting 10 plays. Running backs, tight ends and specialists are scheduled for the autograph tent.

Quote of note

"Just [having been] around the block . . . knowing that in this game, that window of opportunity is so small. When you have an owner who will agree to go out and get some big names . . . and you have your core nucleus intact, you have to take advantage of it. Who knows, that window may be 3 or 4 years, and it may even be 2 years. I'm a firm believer that you take advantage of every moment." - Linebacker Takeo Spikes, on the Eagles' sense of urgency. *

--Les Bowen

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