When the Zordiches talk, it's mostly Mike telling Michael he "has to have the ability to stay strong," Mike Zordich said. "That's all we can talk about. I don't want to get any more involved [in discussing the subject] than that. It hasn't been easy, brother."
Zordich wanted to emphasize that he thinks the focus should be more on the victims than his feelings; in fact, he didn't want to discuss in depth his or his son's struggles with what has happened to the football program that helped shape their lives.
"All I can think about is the victims and what they've had to endure, for so many years," Zordich said. "Any circumstance — certainly what happened [Monday] is understandable. It's tough. It's a sad situation.
“As a parent of three kids, those victims, the things that happened to those kids, those children, that is tough for me to think about ... The circumstances, the consequences that came out [Monday], are they difficult? Yes. But we have to accept them and we have to understand why those things were put on Penn State. It's a sad story, and really, that's all I want to say about that."
The NCAA, in announcing the penalties it levied in the Sandusky child sexual-abuse scandal, gave current players the option of transferring out and playing right away at their new schools.
"He's staying," Zordich said of Michael. "There really wasn't any discussion. That senior class is a pretty tight-knit group of guys."
As incongruous a shift as it seemed, life in the NFL goes on, as did Tuesday's questioning of Zordich, who eagerly embraced the opportunity to talk about his safeties. Eagles veterans are scheduled to report Wednesday before a brief closed practice Thursday and the first full-squad, public workout on Friday. The incumbent starters are third-year men Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman. Allen, a former second-round pick, has had games where he looked like a star, and games where he seemed dazed and baffled. He also struggled last season with the aftermath of 2010 knee surgery. Coleman, a former seventh-rounder, is at the front of the line when it comes to hustle, much further back when it comes to size and speed. Joining them, in addition to slow-developing 2011 second-rounder Jaiquawn Jarrett, is 31-year-old vet O.J. Atogwe, signed last month. The Atogwe signing definitely sounded like a vote of no confidence in Jarrett, and maybe in Coleman as well.
"With his experience, his playmaking ability, you've got a pretty good player," Zordich said of Atogwe, who was franchised by the Rams in 2009 but was not brought back by the Redskins after the 2011 season. Zordich acknowledged that tackling has been an issue for his group.
"Adding him and his veteran leadership, his ability to make plays, will be a help for us ... I still see a pretty darned good football player," Zordich said. "Who knows what happened within the Redskin walls? I don't know what happened. But I see a pretty good football player. I see a guy with experience, I see a guy with playmaking ability, I see a guy who knows how to get turnovers [24 interceptions since 2006]. Those are important things."
With his youngsters, Zordich is on a mission to reduce hesitation and doubt.
"Because they're so young, they don't have much experience, they have the ability to play fast. That's what I try to instill in them. Get into the playbook, study, constantly draw up the plays, constantly go through your mind with them … so when they step on that field, they're not thinking, they're just reacting," Zordich said. "That's really what I'm trying to instill.''
In OTAs and camp, Zordich said, “It's repetitive, repetitive, repetitive, so when they step on that field, they see something — bam! They know exactly what it is. That's how you play the game. When your mind is free, your athletic ability, your football instincts are free, you go play."
Coleman's 96 tackles were second on the Eagles last season, but fans mostly remember the ones that eluded the 5-11, 195-pound former Ohio State star.
"He's missed a few … but he gets the job done," Zordich said. "He's a tough nut. He works his rear end off. He's got a great attitude toward the game, a great attitude toward studying. [Bleep], we benched the kid last year [three games into the season, for two games] and it didn't faze him. He came back and had a hell of a year for us. He's the last person to worry about as far as tackling."
Zordich said he knows Allen and Coleman have heard the criticism.
"I think they're playing with a chip on their shoulder," he said. "There's nothing wrong with playing with a chip on your shoulder. It's a mean, tough, violent game … Have they had problems in the past? Absolutely. Have they deserved some of the criticism? Yes. At the same time, they've showed that they're resilient, that they can come back from it and play pretty good football."
Shiancoe opts for Pats
Veteran tight end Visanthe Shiancoe "had a good workout," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said Tuesday, but later in the day a source close to the situation said he wouldn't be signing with the Eagles, and a few minutes after that, Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reported Shiancoe was signing a 1-year deal with New England. Shiancoe had worked out for the Pats before visiting the Birds.
Why are the Eagles, who seem reasonably well set with Brent Celek and Clay Harbor, suddenly rumored to be in discussions with every veteran tight end this side of Mike Ditka?
"Competition," Roseman said. "We did the same thing last year. We had five tight ends in camp, including Donald Lee," who had just played a solid role for a Super Bowl-winning Green Bay team. Lee was eventually cut.
Roseman would not confirm a report that said the Eagles will give four-time Pro Bowler Jeremy Shockey a physical. Shockey, 31, is represented by Shiancoe's agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Shockey has an extensive injury history, though he did catch 37 passes for 455 yards and four touchdowns last season for Carolina.
Contact Les Bowen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @LesBowen. For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read his blog at www.eagletarian.com.
We invite you to comment on this story by going to http://www.philly.com/psucomments