Eagles are no early birds when it comes to informal practices

Quintin Mikell and about a dozen Eagles have been working out at Power Train Sports in Cherry Hill.
Quintin Mikell and about a dozen Eagles have been working out at Power Train Sports in Cherry Hill. (JEFF McLANE / Staff)
Posted: May 12, 2011

The Giants and Cowboys are doing it. So, too, are the Saints, Falcons, and Seahawks. Even the Redskins have done it.

The Eagles, on the other hand, have not held informal practices during the NFL lockout, although plans are in the works.

But is there anything to gain from players gathering for workouts without coaches, state-of-the-art facilities, and playbooks?

"It's important," Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said. "But I feel like people are stressing too much about it. I think it's more important for, let's say, a team bringing in a rookie franchise quarterback as opposed to a guy we've been working with for two years now. Obviously, we have the advantage in that."

This offseason, however, was to be Michael Vick's first as the Eagles' starting quarterback. And this weekend was supposed to be when Eagles coach Andy Reid held his first minicamp. But with the NFL labor dispute tied up in court and the work stoppage reaching its two-month anniversary, the players are no closer to returning to team facilities.

Most aren't complaining. Saints running back Reggie Bush cracked earlier in the week that he wasn't missing mandatory workouts. "Shoot I'm making the most of it!" he tweeted.

Bush, needless to say, was not among the 37 Saints who took part in practices organized by Drew Brees last week. The New Orleans quarterback set up the workouts at Tulane and footed most of the bill for the use of the facility. Brees even paid for some of the younger players' lodging.

"We would all be working out somewhere anyway, so why not do it together," Brees told New Orleans-area reporters. "I feel like this is putting us way ahead of other teams by having it so organized."

Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk said that informal workouts for defensive players would be pointless and that he had heard from players on other teams that their workouts were "a disaster."

Maclin said Brees was overvaluing his practices.

"Let him talk," the wide receiver said earlier this week. "If he thinks that he thinks that. I guess we'll find out when we start playing games."

Maclin is one of a dozen or so Eagles who have been working out at Power Train Sports in Cherry Hill. Vick has done his conditioning there just a few times, and he and Maclin tossed around the football on one occasion.

Steve Saunders, who runs Power Train, installed a 20-yard-by-60-yard turf field in the lot near the gym.

"We haven't run routes or anything," Maclin said. "We may go to a different location. It just depends on what type of surface everyone wants to throw on. My preference is grass."

Vick said last month that he was planning to organize the get-togethers, but varying schedules and locations have made it difficult. Maclin said workouts involving Vick and most of his receivers could happen as early as Thursday, though.

Tight end Brent Celek and receiver Jason Avant are still locally based. Receiver DeSean Jackson (Los Angeles) and running back LeSean McCoy (Miami) are expected to be in the Philadelphia area this weekend. Eventually, Vick may invite some of his teammates to his Virginia home for practices, Maclin added.

"Just to get familiar with each other again and go out there and throw the ball around," Maclin said.

The exercises won't be too strenuous for fear of injury and with the players having no access to team trainers or doctors. Maclin experienced mononucleosis-type symptoms in March and lost 15 pounds. He said he's gained most of the weight back.

"I'm getting back after it, just catching my wind," Maclin said. "My endurance is not where it needs to be, but it's a lot better than it was."

Read "Birds' Eye View," by Jeff McLane and Jonathan Tamari, at http://go.philly.com/birdseye

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane

at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com.

Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Jeff_McLane

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