Archive | May, 2009

Sheldon Brown on the Clock: Corner’s days in Philly might be numbered over contract dispute

5 May

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

PHILADELPHIA—For what seems like the umphteenth consecutive year the Eagles will come into a mini-camp of a new season with a disgruntled player unhappy with his current contract. It is almost like watching a rerun of “I Love Lucy.” You always know how it’s going to end.

When various Eagles veterans and rookies began streaming in for mini-camp late last week, the buzz among media types was whether or not cornerback Sheldon Brown who is unhappy with his current contract which pays him $3.5 million a year through 2012 , would even show up after asking the team to trade him if they did not renegotiate his deal.

Eagles vice president Joe Banner said the team would not renegotiate Brown’s contract nor would they trade him. Then the Eagles traded for former New England Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs presumably as an insurance policy in case they decide to part ways with Brown. That means the clock on Brown’s time in Philadelphia is ticking.

When the ongoing story of Lito Sheppard’s demand to change his contract dragged through the season, he saw his playing time decrease exponentially to the point to where he saw no playing time during last season’s NFC Championship game and he was subsequently shipped off to the New York Jets.

But like Sheppard, Brown did show up for the Eagles three-day mini-camp and like Sheppard, kept a stiff upper lip, answered questions about his plight in the parking lot at the team’s Nova Care practice facility.

“It’s not hard for me to work under these conditions because I understand the business side of the game,” Brown told reporters. “To the fans, I apologize. It’s just business. It’s all business to me. …I know everything that I’m getting myself into before it happened.”

There were two responses or better yet non-responses from Brown that weekend that told you all you needed to know about how veteran players regard the Eagles organization. Upon his arrival Thursday, Brown was asked several times about his feelings toward Banner and each time he responded with a very terse“no comment.”

On Friday at his locker when Brown was asked if his situation is a reflection of how the Eagles organization treats players like Sheppard, Jeremiah Trotter, and Brian Dawkins who dare to ask for more money or alter the terms of their contract, his answer implied that it was the same old song.

“You been around longer than me before my time, so you can speak on some of the other guys, I just know about the guys in my era,” Brown said smiling. “It makes a great story for you guys, it’s always somebody different, sign the next man up …somebody’s going to get lucky.”

Unfortunately, Brown won’t be the guy who will be lucky. He’s had a solid career here, but he’s at the age of 30 where he’s basically expendable to the Birds who have a penchant for unceremoniously dumping players who get beyond the age of 29. Remember the Eagles are the Logan’s Run of the NFL: A place where players who turn 30 are ritually executed.

In the minds of Eagles management, Brown hasn’t been a superstar or a perennial Pro Bowler like a Brian Dawkins or even Sheppard who made two Pro Bowls during his time in Philadelphia.

Look for the Eagles to cut Brown loose if players like Hobbs or Virginia Tech rookie Victor “Macho” Harris have solid training camps. I don’t think the Birds are interested in another disgruntled player spending the season bitching and moaning about a contract that they are not going to alter.

Here’s a lesson for those younger Eagles players-don’t sign a long-term deal before you’re eligible free agency because if do and your performance far exceeds the deal you signed or worse yet when you turn 30 don’t even think about asking Birds management to redo your contract because it ain’t gonna happened.

And if you complain about it, they will reduce your playing time and eventually send you packing one way or the other.

The Eagles quest to be the gold standard, the winners of the “Salary Cap Bowl” has left a bitter taste in the mouths of players who left here feeling disrespected after giving their blood and guts to the organization. Dawkins very bitter departure this past spring was a classic example of that .

Brown is just the latest Eagle unhappy with his contract and the team’s stern refusal to renegotiate contracts and he will definitely not be the last.

The Future is now for Eagles offensive rookies

1 May

The Future is now for Eagles offensive rookies
By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report

PHILADELPHIA–Back in 1975, the Dallas Cowboys had 12 rookies—which included Randy White and Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson that not only made the team, but helped take it to the Super Bowl that year.
Flashing forward to the here and now of 2009, the Eagles have on paper arguably the best draft class in the NFL coming into all the minicamps, OTAs (organized team activities) and ultimately training camp.
The Birds are hoping players like rookie wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, the team’s No. 1 draft choice, and second-round draft choice running back LeSean McCoy will develop fast enough to put them into the Super Bowl in 2009 after they fell short last season.
“We’re going to take it all the way through training camp and see how they do,” said Eagles head coach Andy Reid in a press conference after the team’s first day of mini-camp. “If I feel like they’re ready to play, we’ll put them in there. My time line is that you get ready right (to start) now. We’re going to throw a lot of things at them and we’re going to see if they can digest it.”
Maclin’s selection at the wide receiver spot might be like manna from heaven for Eagles fans as well as quarterback Donovan McNabb who have been clamoring for a big play receiver for years. But the reality for Maclin is that he has to digest all the complicated schemes of the Eagles version of the West Coast while learning how to read defenses. That’s something easier said done for most rookies who come into the NFL though not impossible.
“It’s a kind of hard to draft somebody and expect them just to come and start,” said Eagles second-year wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who led the Eagles in receptions as a rookie last year with 62 receptions for 912 yards and two touchdowns while starting in all 16 games. “They still have to prove themselves as NFL players. If all that happens and it falls right, they can definitely do it.”
The 6-foot, 200-pound Maclin comes to Philly with a boat load of accolades from his final season at Missouri. He set a school record for receptions with 102 catches for 1,260 yards and 13 touchdowns. As a receiver, punt and kickoff returner, Maclin led the nation in all-purpose yards with a school-record 2,833.
While the Eagles will no doubt utilize his skills as a return specialist, Reid made it very clear that Maclin is here to give McNabb another weapon in the passing game.
“I didn’t pick him up as a returner,” Reid said on the day he drafted Maclin. “I picked him as a receiver.
“As a receiver he was the most productive receiver in the country, all around I’m saying when you add special teams in there. You look at his hands, his ability to catch football, he didn’t drop footballs. You look at his ability getting in and out of breaks. They have a vertical game that they’ve worked on and then quick hitch routes that they do in their offense. He has the ability to stop and start which is important and the ability to get in and out of breaks, which I think is important as well.”
Meanwhile, Maclin said he feels no pressure to come in and live up to all the billing, but also recognizes that a starting slot on the Birds offense will not be given to him by simply showing up.
“I’ m not going to come here from day one and expect everything to fall into my lap,” Maclin said. “I want to work for everything that I achieve. It’s the kind of situation I want to be in. I want to be a guy that the team can rely on. I definitely think that time will come for me.
“I’m always on toes and always expecting things to happen. It takes a lot for me to be intimidated.”
Another rookie with an opportunity to move into a starting position for the Eagles is second-round draft choice running back and former University of Pittsburgh star LeSean McCoy.
As a runner, the 5-10,204-pound McCoy gained 1,488 yards runs in his final year at Pitt and he also caught 32 passes for 305 yards in the Panthers version of the West Coast offense. What will get McCoy time on the field will be his ability to pass block in an Eagles offense that looks to throw the ball first.
“He’ll need to work on that,”Reid said. “He’ll work on that when he gets in. They asked him to cut block more than what we cut block. That’s part of their scheme. We’ll ask him to stand up and probably have 12 good shots of that on film which we can evaluate, not as much as some of the other guys.”
McCoy said for him it’s just a matter of getting down the basic skills and mechanics. For him a good starting point is simply having the desire to do it. A lot of running backs coming out of college are not too enamored with having to block. It ‘s more of a necessary evil.
“I have the heart to do it, I have the passion to do it,” McCoy said “I think me technique is off as far as being able to block people. It’s something that I wasn’t required to do as much, but I’m willing to do it. I’m willing to stick my nose in there and get it done.”
At the tight end position, the Eagles drafted Cornelius Ingram out of Florida who promises to be able to do something that L.J. Smith wasn’t able to do during his tenure here—stretch the field and make catches from the tight end position.
Playing in Florida’s spread offense for three years, Ingram caught 64 passes for 888 yards and eight touchdowns. He missed his senior season because of an ACL injury. Ingram said he’s ready to get back on the field and play football again.
“I just want to show everybody that I’m healthy,” said Ingram, who played quarterback in hig high school. “I don’t want to have to make all these make spectacular plays. I’m just going to relax and soak it all in.”
The Birds are hoping Ingram can make the grade as a blocking tight end as well. He will be competing against Brett Celek, who played well in the second half of last season and during the Birds run to the NFC title game.
“I’m not going to tell you that he is heavy in the tail there where he is going to be knocking guys five yards off the ball but he looked like he was adequate at it,” Reid said. “I think what you get with him is a very athletic receiving tight end who can pull the zone on the line of scrimmage.”
Ingram said he players like himself, Maclin and McCoy know the expectations for them to come in and contribute will be intense, but they are good enough to come in and start at some point this season.
“I hope so, eventually at the end of the day that’s everybody’s purpose,” Ingram said. “I’m just trying to come in and pick up things right away. I know I have a lot to learn and a long way to go, but I don’t mind asking questions and being around other guys and seeing how they do things.”